It’s something we’ve all heard a million times, whether we’re getting back into the gym or justifying that extra piece of pizza on a Saturday night: “balance is key.” Our social media feeds preach that sugar is the devil and must be avoided, while kale is king and you can truly juice anything. But is there a way to lead a healthy life without completely emptying our cupboards of our favourite desserts and snacks?
British fitness blogger Lucy Mountain is using a tried-and-true method to dissect the calories in our favourite foods, comparing healthy snacks to their more indulgent alternatives.
“A handful of almonds vs. a packet of fruit pastels. Both snacks have the same calories. Which one would you pick? Occasionally I’m the left hand, but mostly I’m the right hand… although I’m fully aware that a handful of almonds contains lots of wonderful nutrients that would keep me fuller for longer, some days (no matter whether I’m looking to gain, maintain or lose weight) I’ll choose to eat sweets or a chocolate bar as a snack,” she wrote in a post to her more 92,000-plus followers.
Mountain is tackling the popular photo series in a different way. Rather than condemning indulgent snacks, she’s encouraging her followers to listen to their bodies and see how these treats may be able to fit within their goals. Often these comparison photos are used to show how the healthier alternative is always the best option, but Mountain acknowledges that sometimes it’s simply not what you need.
“Cutting out things I love isn’t realistic for me so I always squeeze something sweet into my days (all whilst still sticking to my calorie/macro/micro targets).”
Anyone who has ever tried to stick to a healthier diet can sympathize with the fact that sometimes you just want ice cream. And while frozen, blended banana works in a pinch, sometimes it just doesn’t do the trick. Mountain also provides her followers with plenty of lower calorie options that will help kick cravings.
“If your goal is weight loss, the Solero could be a good swap for the ole classic Magnum… and equally – if your goal is weight loss, the Magnum could be a good choice regardless (if it helps you stick to stay in a calorie deficit), You don’t need to restrict anything out of your diet that you enjoy the taste of, no matter what your goal is. Including ice cream.”
Mountain’s message seems to be hitting home — with each post getting thousands of likes. While primarily promoting healthy living, the fitness blogger explains that you can still treat yourself to your favourite things in small portions. She also says that it’s also possible to overindulge on healthy foods.
“Each of these bowls contain one bag (40g) of crisps. The bowl on the left are salt and vinegar, the bowl on the right are mixed root vegetable. Although the difference in calories is pretty minuscule, you’d expect the vegetable crisps to be considerably less calories right? This is just another little reminder that often there’s not much difference between the product marketed as the ‘healthy alternative’ and the real thing,” she wrote.
Mountain also debunks “healthy alternatives,” showing her followers that what may be considered a healthier option isn’t always necessarily so. To live a healthy life, you don’t have to be restrictive, and sometimes things that you would think cost less calories (like dark chocolate) can be higher than the “unhealthy” treat.
“Although there are many different aspects that describe ‘healthy’… calories play a fundamental part in weight management. It’s more about looking at your diet within the context of a whole day – and eating the damn salt and vinegar crisps if that’s want you actually want,” she adds.
It’s easy to see that Mountain consistently preaches “balance is key” with portion sizes being the biggest consideration in weight loss. While her photos are primarily calorie-centred, she also encourages her followers to find a way of healthy living that suits them, reminding readers that calorie counting isn’t the sole method for weight loss.
“Does counting a calorie stress you out? If so, don’t do it. It’s simply one of many methods,” writes Mountain.
In a world of #fitfam and no-sugar detoxes, Mountain’s approach to health and fitness is a breath of fresh air.
“Don’t forget that everything starts with you. Experiment and work out what works for you… taking into account not only your goal, but also your physical and mental health.”