Stop looking at the labels


Hallie Fischer, Editor-in-chief

Everyone knows that a big cookie topped with icing isn’t good for you. Everyone knows that a pear is a healthy alternative. Why do you need a little black and white label with percentages to tell you that?

This world has become enveloped with “checking the calorie count” or the “percent to fat ratio”. I have never looked at these numbers. I have never checked the little white label. Why? Because you know if something is healthy for you. Trying to justify what you eat by a number only puts you in a hole.

That doesn’t mean you should eat whatever you want and just disregard all health warnings. Eat what you think is healthy. Americans are often consumed by their food. When you start to balance health with numbers, you lose the sight of real health: doing what is best for your body. Whether you know the amount of sugar per serving is not going to change the molecular structure of the Pop-Tart you are putting into your mouth. It still isn’t good for you, no matter what the numbers say. When a box of chocolates say 40 percent less fat, don’t just buy it because the sugar count is lower. Everyone knows that those box of chocolates is bad for your health.

If you want to be healthy, watch what you eat, not how the product is made.

The caveman diet has become a popular dieting technique for many Americans. The whole concept is to only eat things that cavemen could/would have eaten. Did cavemen have sugar counts? No. Serving size? No. They ate until they were full and only ate what they could find. So, if you want to be healthy, put down the calorie calendar and pick up what you’re hungry for, and I never heard of an obese caveman.

Your body is not stupid. It knows what it needs and what it doesn’t. Your body doesn’t count the calories one by one until it reaches its limit. Being a cross country runner, diet is a big part of my performance. Long distance runners are more often than not, one of the healthiest athletes you’ll find (unless we are on break). But my coach always tells me to listen to my body, and this just doesn’t go for running. He tells us that our body knows what we need, even if it’s a cookie. My coach once told us:

“If you get done with a workout and you’re really craving ice cream, go and eat it. It’s most likely your body craving something in the ice cream.”

To hear my cross country coach tell me to eat ice cream was quite surprising, but he is a smart man. He knows the best way to be healthy is to understand what your body needs and be in touch with its signs.  My coach never told me to take in a certain amount of calories per week or per day. He’s never told me not to eat something high in fat. Yet, cross country runners tend to be the most healthy of athletes and not just because we run a lot. It is probably because we are in tune with our bodies.

The best way to be healthy is to be in touch with your body.

So next time you are wanting to pick up a cereal box and look at those little black percentages, remember that you’re not renting your body, you are living in it. If you want to eat healthy, shop for the products that don’t have an expiration date in five years. Put the “healthy cookies” away and go for fruit. And just because soda is “diet” doesn’t mean it makes it healthy (but that is another talk).

Long story short, put down the labels, quit counting calories. Just live a healthy life, without numbers.