This blogger is changing the way we think about calories

Krista Thurrott
Not all calories are created equal — but that doesn’t mean they’re bad. <em>(Photo via Instagam/<a href="https://www.instagram.com/thefashionfitnessfoodie/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:thefashionfitnessfoodie" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">thefashionfitnessfoodie</a>)</em>
Not all calories are created equal — but that doesn’t mean they’re bad. (Photo via Instagam/thefashionfitnessfoodie)

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. (I know, shocking. A person who considers themselves into health and fitness eats sweets – and is openly talking about it on social media.) ⠀ ⠀ You see, 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 ⠀ ⠀ Why? Because when the majority of my diet has consisted of well-balanced food that’s full of micronutrients, I have no issue eating something thats less so just because I love the taste of it. This is just a personal choice. 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.)⠀ ⠀ Many would choose the almonds for the nutritional value or the flavour – which is totally fine. Many would choose the almonds because even though they'd prefer Fruit Pastels, almonds would make them feel more ‘on track’ mentally – which again, is totally fine ⠀ ⠀ I’m not glorifying sweets, or almonds for that matter. I’m glorifying knowing what’s in the food you’re eating, and make educated decisions based on your own values. And I value food that’s good for my body and good for my soul.⠀ ⠀ ‘Healthy' to me is exactly what I make it. And Fruit Pastels (in moderation) make me happy which I believe contributes largely to my overall health ⠀ ⠀ #theFFF #theFFFeed @thefffeed

A post shared by LUCY MOUNTAIN (@thefashionfitnessfoodie) on May 14, 2017 at 8:03am PDT

“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.

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“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.

Salt and Vinegar Crisps vs Vegetable Crisps ⠀ ⠀ Each of these bowls contain 1 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. So go for the thing you actually WANT to eat ⠀ ⠀ Although there are many different aspects that describe ‘healthy’ (yes – it IS subjective), such as salt content, micro-nutrient value and how that food makes them feel, calories play a fundamental part in weight management. This post isn’t to say 'TRACK EVERYTHANG, TRACK THAT DAMN CUCUMBER’, 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.⠀ ⠀ I want this and all my comparison posts to give encourage freedom with your food choices, not restriction. When 80% of my diet within a day is full of adequate micros and macros, i will ALWAYS eat food I love purely for taste. Because life. Ygm. ⠀ ⠀ (All crisps are vegetable crisps )⠀ ⠀ Which side are you guys going for?⠀ ⠀ ⠀ *Crisps from Co-Op Irresistible range* – #theFFF #theFFFeed @thefffeed

A post shared by LUCY MOUNTAIN (@thefashionfitnessfoodie) on Jun 8, 2017 at 12:22pm PDT

“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.

100g Milk Chocolate vs 100g 85% Dark Chocolate ⠀ ⠀ So it’s pretty unknown that dark chocolate actually has more calories than milk chocolate (and white chocolate for that matter.)⠀ ⠀ Dark is often given the label as the ‘healthy’ version of chocolate. And although calories aren’t the sole indicator of ‘healthy’, we just presume it has lower calories. So which one is best for weight-loss?⠀ ⠀ In most cases, Dark chocolate has less sugar, more fiber and more iron than milk. It’s basically more nutritious than milk chocolate.⠀ ⠀ Regardless, I will always go for milk for two reasons:⠀ ⠀ 1. I think Dark chocolate tastes like garden leaves.⠀ ⠀ 2. Chocolate isn’t something I’ll seek out when I’m looking to pack in those vitamins and minerals – especially in a diet that already consists of adequate fruit, vegetables and micronutrient-dense food I enjoy chocolate for it’s taste, not it’s nutritional value. My diet is inclusive of it always – no matter what my goal is at the time ⠀ ⠀ For those of who genuinely love dark chocolate, keep doing you . However if you PREFER the taste of milk, but force yourself to eat dark because you've read it’s 'healthier', just have the milk chocolate and enjoy it In terms of weight-loss from a calorie perspective, it’s actually more beneficial and will raise happiness levels by 938% (unproven stat.)⠀ ⠀ Don’t eat things you don’t enjoy for the sake of it. Personal enjoyment is ‘healthy’ in my eyes Which side are you guys?!⠀ ⠀ #theFFF #theFFFeed @thefffeed

A post shared by LUCY MOUNTAIN (@thefashionfitnessfoodie) on Jun 3, 2017 at 8:02am PDT

“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.

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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.

Fatloss Food vs. Fattening Food ⠀ ⠀ Firstly soz for the crude labels. (It's just to make a point.)⠀ ⠀ I'm a firm advocate of everything in moderation, no matter what my fitness goal might be. Fat-loss, muscle-gain, maintenance or no-goal-whatsoever ⠀ ⠀ Because it's in our nature to want to give things labels, it can be really hard to see food without associating it as 'good', 'bad', 'healthy', 'unhealthy'. It also doesn't help when the media is constantly reinforcing this in order to get more clicks (hi coconut-oil gate )⠀ ⠀ No single food will cause weight-gain. Eating more calories than you're expending constantly over a period of time will do this.⠀ ⠀ Equally, no single food will cause weight-loss. Eating less calories than you're expending constantly over a period of time will do this.⠀ ⠀ Of course, we still need to understand different foods have different nutritional values beyond calories which can impact your weight. For example, you're more likely to 'over-eat' on cake than chickpeas (if you're a sane human being) lol.⠀ ⠀ But I believe the restricting yourself of foods you enjoy will ultimately always lead to binging. So just eat all the things you love in moderation. (Sorry I know it's the most unsexy word but let's learn to love it.)⠀ ⠀ This post was inspired by @mybetter_self's post on 'fat-burning foods' last month Check out her profile – she's a total babe. And she's French.⠀ ⠀ Anyway. I hope dis makes sense ⠀ ⠀ #theFFF @thefffeed #theFFFeed

A post shared by LUCY MOUNTAIN (@thefashionfitnessfoodie) on Jul 22, 2017 at 6:19am PDT

“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.”

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