Sunday, October 28, 2012

Freedom from nutrition labels

Hey everyone. I think through some logic (I know me....logical...ya it happens sometimes) I just reasoned my way into freedom from ever looking at nutrition labels. For some this may not seem a big deal, but for me nutrition labels and certain information on them has always governed whether or not I eat something. And since with an eating disorder food is pretty much the center of your life....nutrition labels have been the center of mine. Even being on an exchange plan where calories shouldn't matter I have nitpicked things off the nutrition label to count, but today my frustration from wanting something (I know a food craving...those happens sometimes too) and not liking what was on the label pushed me to try and reason with myself why I should eat it. This is a good thing for me...I feel a little guilty and a lot strange for using my reasoning to get me to eat something instead of to avoid eating something....but I guess it is good. 

Anyway, I thought I would share my logic.  WARNING: this does have some specifics about which food groups I avoid but no numbers or anything (blocked them out). So if that will trigger you STOP READING. However I am going to post this despite the risk of it triggering some people, because I think for others who obsess with nutrition labels it may bring freedom. 

To summarize it though if you are too busy to read now: if you are on an exchange based system monitored by a dietician (which if you are not I would highly, highly, highly recommend doing that) then you have no need to look at labels. It may be scary, but think of the freedom that means. It means choosing a starch because its a starch exchange and not having to worry about anything else about it. Is it a half cup of grain? Then it is a starch exchange and you are good to go. Literally something so simple blew my mind. I have been on so many meal plans and in treatments that do exchanges so many times and right now the logic all hit. I must thank my nutritionist for hammering this stuff into my head (feel bad that it took over a year for it to to click...whoops) and prayer for this enlightenment being revealed. So here goes. 

It all started when I wanted to have rolls and graham crackers but my brain freaked out about the miniscule amount of fat in them (something my brain loves to do). I decided to reason my want into eating the rolls and graham crackers and try and forget about the fat using some goes. 
In everything I have read and been told its not the amount of fat/carbs/sodium/sugar in a food that will make you gain weight....your body works on calories. I know this from animal nutrition. To make an animal gain weight you give it extra energy so it has an energy (aka calorie) surplus. You can alter the pro/carb/fat ratio to help them in whatever performance they have (beef cows to get good cut, horse racing endurance, etc), but the rate of their gain comes down to calories. So in this logic...the fat in my rolls or graham crackers or whatever don't's the calories. So my whole fear of ballooning because of the fat in the items is irrational and the calories are right for one exchange so I can eat them.  This is where my brain went off into freedom mode (maybe from the increased energy I have been giving it).

Happy cow free from worrying about fat
You see I don't even have to worry about calories. My nutritionist takes my caloric needs and packages them into exchanges. After our last session where she had me help build the new plan I realized exchanges are calories....I mean they are based off calories. Each starch exchange, fat exchange, protein....whatever fits into a specific caloric range and that's how portions are decided.My nutritionist formulates my meal plan based off her knowledge of these caloric ranges.  My nutritionist does the exchanges to make sure I get the nutrients my body needs. The calories are the big picture, but she fills in the picture with the right "colors" to make it complete. These colors are the exchanges which give me the nutrients I need. It's basically like she calculates my caloric needs which spits out a coloring book page all outlined and everything. And then she takes the knowledge of my nutrient needs and fills in the spaces to make the beautiful picture (aka my health and healthy body). Therefore I should concentrate on exchanges (especially since I don't really know how many cals I need) and portions. 
Well...exchanges and portions I already know. A roll is 1 starch, 1 sheet graham cracker is 1 starch....I know these things. So the information on the nutrition fact label for any food is what makes it a certain exchange. But my nutritionist already takes all the numbers and everything into account when she builds my meal plan based off of the exchanges. And the exchanges she gives me are based off the portions the meet one exchange (which she gave me in a nifty sheet) the nutrition fact label serves no purpose for me. It doesn't tell me exchanges, just extra info that my nutritionist already calculated for me. 

 I really have no need to ever look at or obsess over the nutrition facts label. This thing that has dictated my food choices for so long...really doesn't matter because my dietician takes all of the info on it  that is important to me into account when creating my meal plan.  So she does the hard work to make my life simpler....just live by exchanges....1/2 cup grain is a starch, a fruit is a fruit, 1/2 cup cooked veg is a veg, I know the fat exchanges, and protein is based off oz, dairy is simple (yogurt cup, 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup cottage cheese). So really I am free to choose whatever I want if all of this is logical and true....I think I just ventured into freedom.  Why not come and take a step with me? Put the labels down, and pick exchanges up :) 

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