Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Counting Calories

Some folks in the health department now require school canteens to display the calorie content of the canteen's menu, in a bid to raise awareness on obesity in our school children. You can read about it here.

Image from

This is just my general take of the whole thing. You see, counting calories isn't just limited to school kids. Even adults who are on diets, sometimes count calories. What are calories?

The answer, from
Calories are the unit measurement of energy for food (1 calorie = 4 joules). The main sources in food are carbohydrates, protein and fat. We eat so that we get nutrition and, more importantly, energy to sustain our activities, bodily functions and life itself. Every breath you take, every movement requires a certain amount of energy. How Calories Influence Weight Gain And Weight Loss Losing or gaining weight is all about energy, and all about CALORIES.

So in summary, calories are energy measurements.

Now, back to the idea of displaying calorie content in school canteens. Do you really think this move would stop school kids from buying that piece of nugget? Or fried chicken leftover from 2 days ago? My answer is NO, simply because kids don't understand what calories are. Calories? Can eat ka?

Why are our future generation getting fatter? Because their diet and lifestyle is bad. All that intake of fast food, deep fried stuff, process food, sedentary lifestyle, that's what is causing the kids these days to be FAT. It's pointless to display all that calorie content, when the problem really lies in understand what living and eating healthily really means.

So the kids goes to school, sees all the calorie numbers. Which would you think the kid would pick?
Ayam goreng - 300 calories.
Mihun soup - 160 calories

Ask any kid what calories are, I bet none of them can tell you what it is or means. You get my point? And mind you, even some adults have the wrong idea of calories. Some think that by counting your daily calorie intake, you can lose weight (or at least don't gain). An average male should have a calorie intake of about 2,000, while an average female is about 1,500. What happens if you consume less than the ideal count? Nothing really major really, as our calorie intake varies day to day (sometimes more, sometimes less). It's what's happens if you EXCEED that amount (and if you exceed it often), that's when trouble starts.

For me, the logic would be: To lose weight, you must burn more than you consume. If you consume more than you burn, eventually the numbers will build up, and you start to gain weight. Also, your age is also a big factor, as the older we get, the slower our metabolism rate becomes (which just means, you will burn even slower as you age). It's really pointless to count calories, if you lead a sedentary lifestyle and just sit all day, expecting the fats to melt away.

It's actually more effective to educate kids about what eating healthily really means, instead of showing them a bunch of numbers (they would just think it's some random Maths test). Eating healthy doesn't mean you have to go organic or vegan, it's about being wary about what you put in your mouth, and how it would affect your body. To be honest, I indulge in deep fried food once a while, and burgers too. I feel that a once in a blue moon intake is fine, so long you have a consistent exercise routine to boost your metabolism rate and overall well being. In fact, I would choose a Zinger burger over a Big Mac anytime. Why?

Zinger burger uses whole chicken meat. Big Mac's beef patty is processed meat. See the difference? Processed meat is loaded with sodium and all sorts of artificial flavouring and food conditioners. But of course, having a Zinger all the time is also bad, too much of a good thing, is bad too. More leafy greens, more grains, less fat, less salt, less oil. And that once a while ice-cream craving, it's actually okay :)