Let Them Eat Cake Without Caring About the Calories

They say not to have your cake and eat it too (oh the calories), but that cake is more important than their opinion.

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Photo Courtesy of Taylor Terreri

A new FDA regulation is being passed requires restaurants to display nutritional information at restaurants.

Taylor Terreri, Columnist

“Did you even look at how many calories that has? Haven’t you eaten enough today? That’s about one tenth of how much you’re supposed to eat today, and that’s a lot! Well I guess it is your body and you choose how you want to treat it…” is what we, especially girls, are all constantly told in regards to food. We’re all convinced that necessary nutrients are “bad” for our health and letting an arbitrary number define “healthy.” Are you ready to hear the scary part? The government is fueling America’s unhealthy and dangerous views on nutrition.

Restaurants across the country will be required to display the amount of calories their food contains by December 1st, 2016. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this will help Americans make “more informed” and “healthier” decisions.

This seems like a great little thing that restaurants can do to help combat obesity and other health problems in the United States, but it will likely do more harm than good. At first glance, it’s just giving consumers some additional information on what they are eating, but the deeper you dig into this new law and its possible effects, the more unappetizing it seems.  

If you think about it, what does a calorie even tell you about the nutritional content of a food? According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it’s “a unit of heat used to measure the amount of energy in the human body.” It isn’t even a tangible concept, it’s a form of measurement. Calories are the measurement of the fuel that your body needs to function. These incorrect interpretations leads to restricting calories and orthorexia, the continuation of our unrealistic body standards, and the concept of moderation constantly being looked over.

If we believe that something is bad, we avoid it, that’s just basic human nature. But our negative perception of calories has caused us to begin avoiding calories; opting for “low- cal” foods that aren’t really all that much different than the regular food. This can cause eating disorders in many people, especially anorexia and bulimia, but this mainly causes orthorexia, which technically isn’t an official diagnosis yet, but it is recognized as a trait of disordered eating. Orthorexia is when someone has the excessive need to control what they eat. This can be extremely dangerous because it causes nutritional deficiencies, which could be life threatening depending on the severity. Counting calories and implementing a “one-size-fits-all” approach to nutrition can lead perfectly healthy people to believe that they aren’t, leading to disordered eating and self-esteem issues.

This new law also enforces the media’s obsession with thinness. It puts the focus on how “bad” a food is by an arbitrary number that hardly anyone really understands. Calories have become an artificial way to measure food, like the way we use weight to measure people. No one is defined by some number on a scale; you are exactly how you are supposed to be, making you perfect. You are a human being, a wonderful and beautiful (no matter your gender) one at that, a number does not define your worth. Numbers also don’t dictate what’s “good” and “bad,” in fact, food can’t be either one of those things; food is food. It’s all energy for your body. Obviously eating fruits and vegetables is important, but it’s more than okay to have that cupcake or ice cream cone or whatever you want to eat, and you and your tastebuds will definitely thank me later. Focusing on the number of calories puts an even greater unnecessary focus on weight, which is an extremely unhealthy and indescribably unsatisfying mindset.

In all the grand efforts to cut down obesity rates, such as MyPlate.gov and this new FDA requirment, the whole concept of moderation seems to have gotten lost. People are becoming obsessed with planning out their calories that they don’t allow themselves to enjoy a variety of foods. It’s more than okay to eat more calories on some days than others, that’s actually how our bodies are supposed to function; they’re constantly adapting to our needs. So you won’t gain five pounds from having that cupcake or the drink from Starbucks. As long as you’re not eating an excessive amount, then you are perfectly fine.

I do recognize that many people do need to have access to nutritional information because they have been told by a medical professional to make certain changes to their diet, and I completely support that. But no good doctor, nutritionist, dietitian, or anyone in the medical field will tell you to lower your calorie intake and control it excessively. If you get told that, find another one. I do think that people should be given information on foods but the helpful information. This includes vitamins/ minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fibers, sugars, and fats. Contrary to popular belief, you need sugar and fat, especially the kind that naturally occurs in fruits and vegetables. Now the kind of sugar in fat is different in ice cream and cake than the kinds in strawberries and avocados. Strawberries and avocados are the better choice, but not because of calories, but because of the amount of vitamins and minerals, giving your body more nutrients and fuel, but this doesn’t make foods like cake and ice cream bad. It just means that they should be enjoyed in moderation.

This law is creating an unnecessary stress on calories, which don’t tell you much of anything about a food but can result in disordered eating, body image issues, and losing the concept of a balanced diet. So no matter what the menu tells you, remember that you should order your cake anyway and enjoy every bite of it.