Calories: Quality or Quantity?

Posted on August 24, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Hello all!  I had a meeting recently that really got me thinking.  The topic discussed was something that interested me and provoked lots of questions.  Does that ever happen to you in meetings?  I suppose that sometimes the point is for you to come away from the discussion still thinking about the topic.  The topic was nutrition and calories.  So that you may better understand the context of the conversation, I must tell you that the people in attendance were recovering from disordered eating and that the main speaker was and RD (Registered Dietician).  

We started with an explanation of why the body needs each form of calories ( carbohydrate, protein, and fat).  Now most of us are aware that our bodies need all of these.  But, there has been a bit of a carb scare during the past few years much like the fat scare in years prior.

  I must also advise you that one of the prominent behaviors of those suffering from an eating disorder is not only to restrict calories but also to restrict to only certain foods.  

 The dietician did advise that whether one is eating  a low-carbohydrate or low-fat  diet, it is calories in versus calories out that will determine whether you gain, lose, or maintain your weight.  The example given was :  If your body needs 1800 calories every day and you are eating 1600 calories a day in fried funnel cake you will still eventually lose weight.  In that same respect, if your body needs those 1800 calories every day and you eat 2000 calories every day in broccoli, you will eventually gain weight.  Basically, the point was that your body doesn’t care where your calories are coming from when it comes to maintaining your weight.  The dietician was aware that most of these girls had a lot of  foods that they were fearful to eat.  In the beginning of eating disorder recovery,  maintaining weight is a primary concern since most ED patients have trouble breaking the cycle of losing weight.  She made these comments so that the girls knew if they are having trouble maintaining weight and are still having trouble adding different foods, they can still eat enough calories in broccoli, oranges, or whatever their “safe” foods were to maintain their weight or even to bring it up. 

We all know that there are people who live entirely on junk and maintain a healthy weight.  But, that does NOT mean these people are healthy.   Brendan Brazier does a great job of explaining the value of nutritionally dense food in his book.  Our bodies do need foods from each group.  That is the bottom line.  But, for me ( and most of you ) that’s not enough.  Our diets should be a combination of protein, carbs, and fats.  A good portion of those carbohydrates should come from fruits and veggies.  Yes, fruits are carbs and so are most vegetables even if the vegetable does not have a high carbohydrate content.  So, protein, fats and carbs using whole grains, lean proteins and plant based food.  That’s a pretty basic pyramid.  However, there is more to it than that.  We need our Omegas too!  This is where we bring in our nuts, oils, fish, seeds and avocados!!  I have discovered great ways to add these healthy fats into my diet through the blog world.  But, my very favorite way to get good fat and protein is through nut butters.  I eat between 3 and 4 servings of nut butters every day.  That’s roughly 6-8 tablespoons.  When other women hear this they tend to look at me as if I have 3 eyes.   “If I ate that much peanut butter, I would be the size of a house!”, they say as they munch on their nutritionally void 100 calorie packs.  But, the truth is that  I’m not  “as big as a house”.  I’m not even close, I’m at the low end of my healthy weight range. I won’t post the number since it may be triggering to some bloggers and friends 🙂 

We know that our carbohydrate choices should involve whole grains as well as fruits and vegetables.  I like to stick with sprouted tortillas and breads or grains that look very similar when we eat them to what they do when they are growing.  I am talking about quinoa, brown rice, steel cut or regular oats and so on.  Of course many other nutrients come into play too.   We must consider antioxidents, vitamins and so much more.   I get most of my nutrition advice from the RD that was in that meeting and from another RD I know.


Do I allow myself the occasional indulgence?  Absolutely!  But, it has to be something that I really love and really want to eat.

This past weekend, my mother-in-law came to watch Snuffy on Saturday.  She loves sweets and always raves over my baked goods (hopefully, she’s not just trying to be nice).  So, I made on of her favorites:  banana bread.  Now, I could easily have healthified this recipe.  (It was straight out of my BHG cookbook that I recieved as a gift from Mallard when we were newly engaged…yes, it is the pink one.)   But, like her son, Mallard’s mom often requests “the original recipe”.  You see, I wasn’t always such a healthy baker and many of my family members and co-workers remember a specific treat that I have made in the past that they loved. 

So, I peeled my bananas …


Notice, the banana is “upside down”.  I learned to peel my bananas this way from Gena’s blog!  It’s much easier, especially when one is peeling 5 bananas for bread.

Mash and mix!



And the finished product


My MIL was in love. 

 Snuffy has been sick and refusing to eat! For most toddlers this may be normal but, Snuffy normally eats like it’s her job.  She did ask for “bites” of banana bread though.

On Sunday, Mallard had fantasy football draft day!! So, he requested guy food. 

Translation of guy food:  carnivorous, preferably high in saturated fat and not at all good for one’s body but, utterly delicious to the male palate.

What was his selection?  Sausage balls and a man-sized pizza roll!

For the sausage balls, I mix 2 cups of baking mix, 1 roll of sausage , and 3 cups of shredded cheddar.


Yup, that’s my beloved Kitchen-Aid mixer covered in animal fat….I am reminded of why I eat a vegetarian diet. 

I popped them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes and wah lah!



Saturated Animal Fat : check!

I didn’t get pix of the pizza roll 😦  But, I will tell you how I make it since it’s more of an idea the a recipe.

  I spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and stretch a refridgerated pizza crust to about 11in by 9in.  I like to make my own pizza crust per this recipe.  Mallard prefers Pillsbury 😉

Next, I spread about 1/2 cup of pizza sauce to about 1in from the edges of the crust and sprinkle 2 cups of shredded mozzerella . Mallard likes pepperoni and I stick with sauce , goat cheese and veggies.

Next, I start at at short side and roll it up. I wish I had the pix as this is a bit of a tricky process. Once it’s rolled, I pinch the seam closed and fold over the ends before pinching them closed as well. 

I brush the top with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle about 1/4 cup of the mozzerella over the roll.  Then, I bake it at 425 for 20 to 25 minutes.

 Once it cools, I slice into 1 inch servings.  I always set out extra sauce for dipping.

Enough of the guy food! Onto my new favorite oats!

Most of you have probably run accross the banana soft serve by now.

 Well, it did change my life.  I used to freeze my extra ripe bananas and then microwave them and mash them into my cooked oats.  No more! 

Enter Magic Bullet


This guy is on his last leg but he manages to whip some frozen ‘nanas into shape!



Next step, add to cooked oats.



Yogurt, courtesy of Stonyfield’s happy, grass fed cows!



All together



Another tasty snacklet



3/4 cup Fage mixed with 1 tsp honey, 1/2 cup mixed fruit  and 1/2 cup Kashi Go Lean Honey Almond Flax…

It is divine.

… and here is the staple of my evenings


This was a mixture of Naturally More with flax, White Chocolate Wonderful and Maranath Raw Almond Butter.

With celery, apples and pears MMMmmmmmmmm


Hey I have told you guys how much I love nutbutters.

Up Next:  This Fun Lil Questionaire Floating Around The Blog World!

I Want –  to be the best possible version of myself.  I want to be healthy and happy.  I want to be a good mother.

I Have – A lot of hope for the future.

I Wish – I was closer to being finished with school!

I Hate –  leaving Snuffy at the babysitter so often during the school year.

I Fear –   the day when Mallard’s beloved pup passes away…that will be a tough day.

I Hear – the fireworks from King’s Island every darn night.

I Search –  my soul for my true wants and needs.

I Wonder –  what the future will bring!

I Regret –  not putting forth my very best effort the first year that I attended college at SIU in 2004

I Love – watching my daughter grow!

I Ache –  When Snuffy is sick and I have no control over her suffering.

I Always –  try to step back and weigh my options before making a big decision.

I Usually – do my hair the same way almost every day…boring.

I Am Not – afraid to be a strong woman.

I Dance – when Snuffy and I are alone at home!

I Sing – because it makes me feel great!

I Never –  wear my old high school cheerleading shirts when I know I will see other moms.

I Rarely – drink pop (soda)

I Cry –  when I am extremely frustrated.

I Am Not Always – so personable before 7 am.

I Lose – my inhibitions if I have too many glasses of wine…this is why I rarely drink 🙂

I’m Confused –  about what is the right decision sometimes

I Need – a large sum scholarship!

I Should –  go to bed much earlier than I do!

I Dream –  about all of the wonderful things my future may hold!

I hope – that I can raise my 3.4 to a 4.0 GPA this semester!

I feel –  much older than 23!

I appreciate –  My family and of course my fellow bloggers and readers…I ❤ you guys!


Do you have carnivorous, processed food lovers in your life?  How do you co-exist?

What is your favorite evening snack?

Do you give thought to the quality of your calories?

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15 Responses to “Calories: Quality or Quantity?”

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wow, what a GREAT post! loved the thoughts on combining all macros to create a healthy diet. i could not agree more, as i eat a 40/40/20 ratio. your post was really well written, thanks for that, i really enjoyed reading it! i also loved reading the survey, i have seen it all over, maybe one day i will have to do it myself.. maybe today? my boyfriend is captain junk food, but we eat different foods, he just polished off 4 huge cookies and i polished off my gallon of water 😉


Great post! I really enjoyed your introduction, and I wish I could have been there to hear it! As someone who knows what it’s like to have an eating disorder, I think that was a great thing to teach the recovering listeners. However, I know full well that those girls/boys may change what they eat, and start eating more “treats”, but they will only have tiny bites, as they will assume it has many more calories than it really does. For example, I used to only eat tiny bites of desserts, knowing full well that “a calorie is a calorie”, but I would be assuming one bite has like 70 calories! Ugh, complications of an eating disorder, it’s so strange.

I love that you get your nutrition information from me 🙂 I feel honored! I hope I am teaching good messages and being a good role model. I actually do consider the calories that I put in my mouth. Even though I do agree that a “calorie is a calorie”, it’s not always 100% true. For example, too much bread or sugar will turn into fat, whereas too much broccoli will just turn into bloating, gas, diarrhea, and a little bit of fat. So, they each have their problems/side effects, which is why it’s good to have a BALANCED diet! But overall, yes, a “calorie is a calorie”, as long as you aren’t eating a bunch of crap!

Thanks for teaching me a better way to peel my banana! I always end up mashing the banana when I try to peel it, since it’s never easy. Regarding living with a carnivore, I have a similar problem. I am not a vegetarian, but I eat only about 3-4 ounces of meat a day (turkey, lean beef, salmon, scallops) and Nick really loves meat. Since I have been living with him, however, he has adapted to my eating habits, and therefore eats much less meat, and more beans and tofu! He does love carbs too, which is fine with me because I always have good bread around the apartment!

Favorite late night snack: Dove chocolate and homemade popcorn

I LOVED this post!! Sometimes I feel like I eat way more nut butters than other bloggers and I wonder if that’s ok.. but you assured me it is ok! Nut butters are downright amazing!

Awesome post girl!! I do have a meat eater at the house and he’s helping me branch out a lot which is fun! And i’m helping him eat differently too so it’s fun around here! haha I’m working on quality. I was all 100-calorie packs, goldfish, etc. – now i’m really working on getting in more veggies, hummus, etc. It’s hard – but it’s a personal goal of mine. My favorite late night snacks are trader joe’s mini cookies!!

this is so true! its all about how much we eat– not what we eat! and ever since i added more healthy fats in my diet i feel SO much healthier and more satiated!

great post xoxo

[…] jenna’s post on calories or quantity […]

Haha, aren’t most people “carnivorous, processed food lovers”? I too used to be one, but now I discovered the joys and deliciousness of real whole food. I coexist with them by not throwing a fuss though. Sometimes, if I am obliged to go have a social dinner, I would allow myself to have “carnivorous, processed food” with them. ,
And fav night snack is yogurt with Puffins and fruit, or oatmeal, or runny eggs with onions on waffles!

What a wonderful post! I love the little survey at the end! Sometimes it’s so hard not to compare yourself to other bloggers and wonder…am I eating too much? Too little? It’s rough. Loved the post – very well written!

That’s a wonderful discussion about calories/types of food, I completely agree!

Great post, very thought provoking! I started to write a long comment but I am not an RD and it might be kind of silly for me to give my 2 cents 😉 But from experience, my healthy weight loss really took off when I started focusing on food groups as well as calories. To me, quality of calories does make a difference 🙂

This post is so true. I use to be one of those that feared fat. It wasn’t until I figured out that it all came down to the math – calories in vs. calories out, nd didn’t have anything to do with fat, carbs, etc that I finally was able to reach the healthy weight I’ve always wanted to be at. Sometimes I *forget* that everyone doesn’t know this!

I love reading everyone’s little quiz things – it gives such nice insight! 🙂

so i am an idiot, and it took me way too long to find your blog (b/c clearly with my college degree, i could put wholebodylove + wordpress together by myself to make an address). LOVE LOVE LOVE all the goodness here.

i love that we can all eat a variety in our diets, choosing what we like the best. i think you have a great perspective, and really – banana soft serve + oatmeal + yogurt = genius. plus your nut butter pile looks soooo good!

Awesome post, girlie! Although RDs say that it’s all calories in and calories out, in my experience it’s not quite true. Like you said, we need a balanced diet filled with proteins, fats, and carbohydrates—all not processed and healthy, of course 😉 I lived the low fat way for a looong time and recently added some fats in my life. Although this increased my daily caloric intake, I lost 3-5 lbs. But this may not be the norm, or the exception.

Although I recently posted a bunch of healthified baking recipes, I do believe in treats—in moderation. A little bit of white flour or sugar won’t hurt you, and I’m starting to believe that saturated fats aren’t bad at all (especially coconut oil—Brendan Brazier agrees, and “Real Foods” is a great book source as well). So I believe carnivorous foods are fine (as long as the animals were treated humanely, and not in a crazy factory), but processed food is, ehhh. If it’s close family or friends, I try to suggest other food options. Otherwise, I keep my mouth shut because I don’t want to be rude!

I didn’t know Stonyfield’s yogurts were from grass-fed, happy cows =) I will definitely be buying my yogurt from them now!

Love the Questionnaire—I totally feel older than my 21 (almost 22!) years too!

Gosh, I adore this post. I just don’t think we should fear any food, or have any emotion attached to anything, other than joy. We are so blessed to be able to taste and savor things, ya know?

Anyway, I’m adding you to my google reader PRONTO. Um, have I mentioned you’re adorable, too! And Snuffy! Gahhhh! So freakin’ cute.

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  • Whole Disclaimer

    Please understand that I am not a physician or Registered Dietician. Yet, I have learned about health, nutrition and wellness through my own experiences with physicians and RD's. For serious health concerns, please contact your physician. For friendly, knowledgeable advice, contact me at

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