So I had a great conversation yesterday that has come up before many a times around clarifying the difference between something being healthy and nutritious vs good for weight management; As it appears at times that these terms are mutually exclusive.

coconut butter has 3500kJ/100g compared with most oils which have around 2200/100g

coconut butter has 3500kJ/100g compared with most oils which have around 2200kJ/100g

As a “dietitian” I have found there is a preconception that all I (or those within my industry) do is count calories for weight management, whereas when I put on my “nutritionist” hat, I apparently am taking a holistic approach and am caring more for your insides.

I’ll put it out there, all dietitians are nutritionists, all nutritionists are not dietitians, with this piece of information, I hope you can see that even when I chat about calories, I am still taking note of how the foods actually effect your insides..I promise!

Yes, even dietitians like healthy wholesome food and don't only look at calories.

Yes, even dietitians like healthy wholesome food and don’t only look at calories.

You will find that there are a lot of recipe and nutrition information blogs these days that focus on clean eating recipes (which is fantastic) but, they do not assist with explaining portion sizes or calorie density for those that are in search of weight management friendly meals or snacks.

So it was interesting when my colleague yesterday was talking about how there seems to be all these “healthy” foods out there being promoted in a range of recipes, that are certainly not a free for all if you are trying to lose weight.

Healthy products, but still calorie dense, portion size matters!

Healthy products, but still calorie dense, portion size matters!

I am certainly not suggesting just going for empty calories in portion controlled “diet” products that are artificial and pretty much just sugar (i.e low calorie chocolate mousses), but as an example, activated nuts, coconut oil, Himalayan salt, and a range of other popular foods at the moment are being consumed on the bucket load by people who are trying to lose weight, and then as my colleague explained; they would come and question what was going on, and why they were not getting any results in their weight loss efforts..because technically they were eating “healthy” foods.

Long story short- Something can be healthy, but still calorie dense (nothing revolutionary in that comment!), no it is not causing your blood glucose levels to fluctuate or your cholesterol to go up, but remember, if you are consuming it in portion sizes that are not appropriate for weight loss, then you will not likely be seeing the results you want on the scales or in your clothing size.

The answer- Use common sense.

These foods are a great replacement for other common desserts or unhealthy counterparts in regards to looking after your insides; but your portion size still counts.

Grain free dessert, still extremely calorie dense, portion size!

Grain free dessert, still extremely calorie dense, portion size!

Filling your diet with “paleo” or “grain free” slices, cakes, and bars, will not be the same as fuelling yourself with antioxidant and nutrient rich plant based foods, lean protein sources rich in the building blocks for your muscles, and an array of other foods from the other food categories.

Healthy food with a range of food groups - that tastes amazing!

Healthy food with a range of food groups – that tastes amazing!

I hope next time you create one of those amazing nutritious recipes off one of those great blogs, or purchase a raw vegan paleo friendly (or whichever combination of words is used to describe the) amazing looking slice in front of your eyes at a cafe, that you remember this post, and remind yourself that yes you can consume it…but it is probably best to go halves with a friend! (or even just keep some for later!).

For now,

The travelling dietitian x

About The Author

Kara Landau aka "Travelling Dietitian" is an Australian Accredited Practicing Dietitian based in New York City. She is a world explorer, healthy foodie, social butterfly, and barre class lover. When she isn't trying new cuisines, researching new product innovations in the health food space, or speaking to the media on behalf of her food industry clients, she can be found quietly conjuring up her next idea in how to make this world a healthier and better place.

6 Responses

  1. Julie Sincock

    Thanks for your thoughts on this. I read something the other day where someone had written how they had stopped calorie counting as it had gotten in the way of their clean eating. I went all “Calorie counting and Clean eating are different things. You can do one without the other. You can do both. But to stop one, to improve the other is insane” ranty on them. You’re right, it’s all about common sense. (Sadly, it wasn’t the stupidest thing I read last week, but it was in the top 3 🙂 )

    • Travelling Dietitian

      Thanks Julie! There is a lot of ‘amazing’ information out there…it’s just about knowing which bits to actually take on board and respect! Clearly you are doing some sifting over there..well done! 🙂

  2. renazza

    Love that you wrote this as I was thinking the same thing the other day…all these amazing beneficial and nutrient packed foods but I would look at the calories and cringe…I still use them but am definitely mindful..thanks for the reminder to use my noggin 🙂

    • Travelling Dietitian

      Thanks for the comment and I am glad you enjoyed the read! There are so so so many people that can relate to what you said, so thank you for speaking up! Hope you enjoy (in moderation) your wonderful creations 😉

  3. renazza

    Love that you wrote this and thanks for the reminder…I agree we need to still be calorie conscious…I am enjoying all these amazing nutrient packed and healthy foods available such as the nut spreads and the like but I then look at the kjs and cringe…as anything, all in moderation 🙂

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