This is a long essay, but it is worth every minute that you’ll spend reading it. You cannot help but walk away from it realizing just how absurd most conversations about diet and nutrition are in our culture. Turn off the nutrition advice from the government and the nutrition establishment. Focus on eating better instead of losing weight. As other posts here point out, you’ll do more for your health by simply improving the quality of your diet than all the other supposedly effective strategies combined. It’s all I have ever tried to do as an adult…eat real food and approach treats (sweets, fried food, alcohol) with discipline.
None of this means that the calorie is a useless concept. Inaccurate as they are, calorie counts remain a helpful guide to relative energy values: standing burns more calories than sitting; cookies contain more calories than spinach. But the calorie is broken in many ways, and there’s a strong case to be made for moving our food accounting system away from that one particular number. It’s time to take a more holistic look at what we eat.