This article was written in collaboration with TOVI's nutrition expert, Dr. Tara Coletta. Learn more about Dr. Coletta here.
Food often gets treated as a means-to-an-end for weight loss or soothing emotions, but proper nutrition is so much more. The old saying food is fuel is true; the foods you eat give your body vital nutrients and energy that you can’t get otherwise. There are many different ways to approach nutrition, but many approaches focus solely on the energy food provides, commonly called calorie counting.
What are calories?
The energy you acquire from the foods you eat is measured in kilocalories, though they are often referred to as just ‘calories’ (food labels tend to use both terms interchangeably). After using the calories it needs to function, your body stores leftover calories as fat. In turn, if you didn’t get enough calories from food, your body breaks down fat and muscle to get the energy it needs to function. Ultimately, the number of calories you eat can be manipulated to cause weight gain (eating more calories than your body needs), weight loss (eating fewer calories than your body needs), and to maintain your current weight (eating exactly how many calories your body needs).
Enter calorie counting: the process of keeping track of how many calories you eat in a day. Calorie counting can be a very useful and educational process because it gives you an opportunity to learn about how many calories are in the foods you eat. It also gives you a chance to learn first hand how to adjust your diet if you want to reach a goal. Unfortunately, calorie counting can have downsides. It’s time consuming and very hard to stick to long-term. Calories also fail to account for all the other amazing things that food provides: vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals.
TOVI’s approach to nutrition is different.
Instead of focusing on the exact calorie count of each food item you consume, TOVI focuses on healthy eating habits that encourage consuming foods that will nourish your body (in the right amounts). TOVI addresses the unhealthy eating behaviors that can cause you to eat too many calories and miss out on vital nutrients your body needs, like eating distractedly, choosing ultra-processed foods, and skipping meals.
While you may address these unhealthy habits and learn more about eating a well-balanced diet after calorie counting for awhile, TOVI guides you by providing a set of principles which, when followed, will ensure you give your body everything it needs. In addition, TOVI actively helps you incorporate changes to your diet in a way that makes them a part of your lifestyle.
TOVI’s approach to nutrition is a straightforward focus on eating fresh fruits, veggies, lean protein, and whole grains along with cutting back on processed foods. For many people, small changes to what you eat and how you’re eating can make a huge difference. With gradual changes, TOVI helps you incorporate healthier behaviors. This means changes for life, not just for a few months.
For more information about nutrition, check out these other TOVI posts:
Written by Ashley Miller-Dykeman, MA
Ashley is a science communicator and writer with a background in biology (BA, Boston University) as well as bioethics and science policy (MA, Duke University). In addition to writing for TOVI, Ashley is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and a loving dog mom.