Stop stressing over calories, just eat it

Lauren Adler

“What are those?” Kelley asked me as I popped some capsules into my mouth, swigged water and swallowed.

“Fish oil. Good for your hair, skin. Prevents cancer and heart disease and Alzheimer’s and diabetes. You know, your all around feel-good pill.”

“Weird,” she said. “Fish oil? How many do you take a day?”

“Four. 4,000 milligrams.”

She considered this. “Well, how many calories do they have?”

“Seriously, Kelley, calories?” Keiko inserted. “They’re VITAMINS.”

“Fifteen maybe?” I guessed. “I don’t know.”

Kristen shook her head. “That’s SIXTY CALORIES a DAY.”

“So?”

“So…that’s like six extra minutes on the elliptical!”

Okay, HOLD ON. Just hold on a damn minute, calorie girls, and listen here: STOP. Stop with the calories. Stop thinking about calories. Stop looking for the calories on the nutrition facts of a Snapple. Stop adding calories together when you eat four M&M’s and a piece of cheese. Stop calculating the calories you burn as you speed walk along a treadmill in Baker-Ferguson. And please, for the love of God and for the sake of everyone around you, stop talking about them.

In December of 2007, Health magazine cited a study that showed a person’s general intake of calories from year to year varies by only 10 calories. TEN! So, if you are the average person like the FDA assumes and intake 2,000 calories a day, in one year you consume about 730,000 calories. That means last year, you probably ate 730,000, and this year it was 730,010.

Or 729,990. And most people burn about what they eat every day. It takes 3,500 EXTRA calories to gain only ONE pound. Not 10 extra calories. Not even close.

The barely significant disparity of 10 calories explains the fact that generally, most people do not change from Bosc-pear-shaped to pencil-stick-shaped to Bosc again in a matter of three years, unless they alternate their breakfast habits yearly, switching from starting their day with chair-sized chocolate bunnies to munching on a single baby carrot.

So why bust your balls for 10 calories? You will eat what you are going to eat eventually. If you don’t eat the Snickers bar tonight, you probably will next weekend when you have a sore case of the drunk munchies; and if you fight those munchies that night, they’ll get you next month, or this summer. If you want that Snickers, you will find your way to it.

But fear not: one Snickers bar, a bowl of fettuccine alfredo, an extra tablespoon of olive oil in your stir fry, or a second banana will not make you fat. So chill out. Eat it if you want it, don’t if you don’t, and just stop thinking: and talking: about it. Just like no one cares what you eat, no one will care if you eat 3,500 calories worth of Snickers bars and gain ONE POUND from it. No one will notice. YOU probably won’t even notice.

Less-cal, low-cal or no-cal does not equate to health. A scoop of almond butter is a hell of a lot healthier than three packages of Splenda in your tea, and that’s a calorie ratio of 200 to zero. Use your common sense. Ignore the calories and look at the ingredients. If it says: cashews, almonds, pistachios, strawberries, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, dates, raisins, cane juice and sea salt (such as a Ms. May’s Trio bar), it probably has a billion calories and its probably really good for you. However, if its ingredients reads: carbonated water, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural flavors, caffeine, aspartame, potassium benzoate, citric acid blah blah and shit you can’t even pronounce (such as a can of Diet Coke), then it probably has 0 calories and it will probably eventually eat away at your bones and blood and heart like a hungry termite in a damp tree.

So just don’t be silly. It’s all common sense. Calories won’t kill you. And yes, you can take fish oil without getting fat from 60 extra calories a day. I promise.