Someone has recently asked me about Calorie Restriction. This is something that I have investigated, and here is how I work it out for me. (No, Calorie Restriction is not necessarily raw, but, then, you, reader, are not necessarily raw either, right? I mean, if you are, lucky us! If you are not, but you want to incorporate more raw in your diet, lucky us! Read on)
I follow a sort of eclectic diet – I come from low carb and raw vegan, and that is the way I follow, personally; yet, as a nutritionist, I work with people who go at food from all sorts of perspectives, for all sorts of reasons.
The way I see Calorie Restriction is that it is just another name for low calorie (Hello-o! Weight loss diet!) – except that you are looking at your meals over-all. and aiming for a healthier diet (if you restrict calories, but you still want to eat your fill, you are going to look for the lower calorie food items that will let you eat more, yes? i mean, you are going to look at how many delicious things you can get for the lowest amount of calories, am I right? I mean, that is what you would do if you were searching for the cheapest cable provider, isn’t it?).
If you are eating a low-carb diet, with a high inclusion of raw vegetables (readsalads, smoothies, etc), then you are already on your way to a calorie restriction diet. If you are a meat-eater, and you recognize that the most meat you probably need on your plate is a piece the size of the palm of your hand (and you should have a high inclusion of raw food on your plate), then you are on your way to calorie restriction. If you only eat things like fish and other seafood, and chicken or turkey (and you have a high inclusion of raw food on your plate), you are on your way to calorie restriction.
What do I mean by a high inclusion of raw food on your plate? Well, ideally, everything else that you eat besides that meat is a huge mixed raw vegetable salad, for instance – so huge that you don’t want to eat anything else – hint – 2 cups of raw spinach equal 4 grams of carbs, and have a very low calorie count. So, you add some oil and vinegar, some herbs and spices, and you are low-cal without trying to hard.
If you don’t eat all the fun things like bread, rice, pasta, fried foods, sugar and foods with high sugar-bearing content (I mean like gobs of dates or other dried fruit – things I *do* use for sweetening when I deem it necessary, but this is not every day, or even every week) then you are probably on your way to a Calorie Restriction diet. If you believe that “ice cream” can come from a banana with no other flavoring or sweetening, then you are probably on your way to a Calorie Restriction diet.
Of course, if you think that a vital food is a bagel with cream cheese, you might have a hard time doing calorie restriction, and you might feel starved three minutes later, because your choice is very high carb and high calorie. (You did know this, right?)
In short, an intelligent approach to calorie restriction would be to identify food you like that is low in calories (no, I am not talking about those sugar-free cookies,, or even those wonderful gourmet raw vegan recipes in the cookbooks), and then work those things into your diet as mainstays. Oh! What if you want some cheesecake? Well, if you cannot bring yourself to make a raw vegan cheezecake version, where every ingredient is healthful, then you just do what you would do on any calorie restriction diet (weight loss??) and eat it, then go back to what you were doing. Calorie restriction does not have to be food restriction. At its essence, it is about identifying what will bring you the most nutrition for the least amount of calories, and then eating that. You can still have a full and tasty diet.