BANT calls time on counting calories over promoting food quality and nutrients
The time has come to recognise the folly of counting calories in favour of recognising the importance of food quality and nutrient diversity says BANT (British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine) in their new Food for your Health Campaign, launched 22nd February 2021.
For too long, public health initiatives tackling obesity and chronic disease have focused on counting calories and the energetic values of foods. This misguidedly leads people to assess only one aspect of their food choices, whilst doing little to educate on the importance of fibre and nutrients.
Calories can mask many nutritional shortfalls in products, and it is easier than one might think to follow a low-calorie diet which nutritionally-speaking is unbalanced or worse, unhealthy. The infinite array of products now marketed as “low-calorie”, “low-fat” or simply “healthy” are often devoid in essential nutrients and high in sugars, despite the claims on-pack.
The effectiveness of calorie counting to support weight loss, and maintain a healthy weight long-term, is inconclusive. Counting calories does little to change dietary habits and mindsets and provides no education about how to make healthy choices to support health. Meanwhile the obesity epidemic worsens.
“We need to turn things on their head and encourage individuals to learn the value of eating whole food ingredients. The campaign promotes a food-first ethos and is focused on helping individuals make healthier choices, beginning with pro-actively choosing foods that provide their body with the nutrients it needs.” says Jessica Fonteneau, BANT Communications Director.
The Food for your Health campaign is the first of its kind launched by BANT, the professional body for Registered Nutritional Therapy Practitioners. It aims to bring a nutritional therapy food-first approach into people’s homes to showcase how diet and lifestyle can support health and help prevent diet-induced illness.
The campaign hub at https://bant.org.uk/food-for-your-health/ hosts a range of free resources for the public to download and learn more about how food choices can influence their health. BANT has also launched a new Eat a Rainbow guide to highlight the need to stop counting calories and instead focus on food nutrients, especially colourful plant foods and nutrient diversity. Find it here.