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What if the heat energy of food was not expressed in calories but "daily activities"?

So instead of
* chocolate cake : 500 cal/serving

You had
* chocolate cake : 5k run/serving

Or instead of
* celery : -1 cal/serving

You had
* celery : eat jellybean and lie down / serving

Do you think that would help some people a bit more with portion control?

It might at the very least help celery farmers.

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  1. And people with eating disorders!

    But seriously; I'd like that. I often think "this is SO not worth the calories." Could I be wrong?

    1. Celery is looking very good!

      1. I'd love it, but I can't imagine my to-do list after even one week.

        "Run to Vancouver. Bike back to Texas. Repeat."

        1 Reply
        1. Nope. The values would vary considerably by person. Contrary to popular myth, metabolic differences between people (even for times of day for each person) make hash of what is popularlarly reported as the caloric value of exercise. And...even the reported caloric values of foods are averages with a larger range of variation than most people would care to know.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Karl S

            Of course it's not perfect.

            Nor, as you aptly noted, are calorie counts.

            In many ways this was asked with a bit of smirk, but I do think there is some value in rethinking how we quantify the heat energy in foods.

            I mean, seriously, why is a 100-calorie pack of anything an appropriate snack size for anyone? Eating anything? At any time of the day?

            What if instead that 100-calorie pouch of chips was instead labeled something like

            >> The all-new 20-minute walk Doritos! The perfect on-the-go snack for the new healthy you! <<

            I wonder if people would eat more/less vis-a-vis a same bag of chips labeled "100-calorie pack" or whatever.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              I'm sure that if there's not already an app (lication, not etizer!) for that, it's coming. Plug in your vital statistics and a list of your typical activities, and find out how much kale you need to chop to "pay" for that latte.

          2. No. It would be indicative of the scientific illiteracy that plagues our society.

            A calorie is a defined unit of energy. The amount of exercise that is required to burn a calorie varies from person to person because people have wildly differing metabolisms.

            1 Reply
            1. The size of my fist is the size of my stomach. I control portions with visual cues. Small plates, bowls, cups. I exercise to maintain a strong upper body, core and power in my legs so I can bike, swim and walk until I'm 100.

              1. One roasted calf : a roll in the hay with CZJ. In my dreams.

                2 Replies
                1. I think it would make a fun list to read and yes, I do think it would hit home with some people. I'm sure they could come up with an average height/ weight to use to base the activity on and as long as they listed what that is people could guestimate/ compare to their own stats just like we all have to do with current nutrition labels. Even if it isn't exact it would still get the point across- I've heard people say some pretty funny things since restaurants have been required to show the calorie counts here. There are a lot of people who really have no clue about nutrition.

                  1. Since I live in a very walkable city I would love this. I'm not a gym person, but I could deal with a 5 mile walk along the river to pay towards a brioche and latte.

                    1. I think its potentially very helpful!
                      Self magazine has a "you ate it, negate it" feature once in a while, i found this one with a quick search:

                      If the label on a bag of chips read "one bag = 1 hour of running so fast you're out of breath" that's more relatable than calories for most people.