Category Archives: calories

Fun with Calories

A weird thing happened to me last summer. I don’t remember how exactly this occurred, it might have had something to do with peanut butter, but I got very interested in calories. I remember learning that two tablespoons of peanut butter has 200 calories in it. I ate several tablespoons of peanut butter on an almost daily basis. A little bit of math (ow, hard!) and light bulbs started going off all over my body, right next to all those flabby spots.

I have been writing down everything I eat off and on for about eight years. It’s part of the craziness of trying to figure out what foods bother me. For reasons I still don’t quite understand–besides maybe that I’m compulsive, interested in details, puzzles, etc–I started writing down in my food journal the calories, approximate calories anyway, of everything I ate. It was more an experiment than anything else, a chance to learn something more about food. I was genuinely curious about calories. They were fascinating! Who knew?

In a few months, I lost ten pounds (don’t worry, I have plenty to spare). I wasn’t even trying, but I had this new awareness now about how many calories were in things, how many calories typically suited me per day, and how many calories seemed appropriate for me per meal. It was really a strange experience. Kind of like, why didn’t I learn this in school? I have been pretty anti-diet my whole life. I have always believed in moderation. But without knowing how many calories are in things, I now see in hindsight how often I ingested large amounts of needless calories. No wonder I was getting so flabby.

Then, I started writing down how many calories I burned when I exercised. This was also fascinating. I would add up my total calories ingested and substract those burned from exercise for my total calorie count per day. Wow! Fun! Seriously. I have no idea how this became fun because just writing about it now sounds c-r-a-z-y. And now I’m totally into it! I do it regularly and I just get a kick out of it. And I rarely eat peanut butter anymore.

I have learned so much! I now know that a pound of flab flesh is equal to 3400 calories. When I walk for 40 minutes during lunch at work, I burn about 150 calories. When I swim, more like 400! If I eat a big lunch, then I have a lighter dinner. I eat one piece of cheese instead of two, etc. I just know now how to better gauge what I’m eating and to be a lot more mindful about indulgences, trying to savor things instead of trying to eat just to fill up my hunger. A friend of mine gave me the book French Women Don’t Get Fat around this same time and I really enjoyed it.

I can almost feel grateful now for being a celiac. I see that because I have this curse, I do eat a lot more healthy than I otherwise would. I still avoid grains for the most part because I suspect that they may contribute to the rash and arthritis (this is an ongoing experiment). But when I do have grains, I rely on substitutes like bean flour, hazelnut flour, and buckwheat flour. I rarely have moments anymore where I lapse into my pity party about not being a normal eater. Can I get a hallelujah, people?

So, this morning I made an updated version of my biscuit recipe. By substituting the cup of cream with a cup of buttermilk, I brought the calories down from 225 per biscuit to 160 per biscuit. Somehow this just feels really good. Solving problems! Love it!

This whole thing has made me think a lot more creatively about holiday baking as well. I’m so grateful there are so many bloggers out there creating healthy gluten-free things. It’s really a great time to be a celiac, healthy-eater, diabetic, whatever. We have so many options now.

With that said, I’m off to experiment with Karina’s buckwheat thumbprints to freeze for Christmas.

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