Kilojoule counts are great if you track what you eat. I also love how kilojoule counts make the ripoff menu items really obvious. If you pay $12 for a 1000kJ salad you’ll be hungry again in, what, five minutes? But not everybody wants kilojoule counts in their face all the time.
I asked Faith Harper, a licensed professional counsellor and applied clinical nutritionist, what this means for people who may struggle with eating disorders. It’s a mixed bag, she says.
“Could the info be triggering as a reminder or shaming for someone trying to have a healthier relationship with food? Definitely,” she said. “But I think there are far more people who are unaware of the caloric load of what they eat, especially when eating out. It’s not a bad start to becoming more aware (for individuals who aren’t triggered into over-awareness again).”
How to Stop Obsessing About Kilojoule Counts
Kilojoule counts are already on a lot of menus, so if they bug you, you’re probably already looking for ways to cope. Karen Koenig, a psychotherapist specialising in eating disorders, says that if the kilojoule counts get into your head too much, focus on other aspects of the food.
“I’d say don’t internalise the data and make it part of your decision-making. I can assure you that when I eat some of the dessert I bought today tomorrow night, I’ll be focusing on taste and satiety, not calories.”
Dr Harper agrees. “Are you enjoying the food? Taking time to savour it? Enjoying the communal aspects of dining with others? Noticing when you are satiated? Noticing how you feel after eating and through the next day?
“If we put numbers aside and stay connected to our bodies, their nourishment, and the pleasure of eating, then calorie counts and weight and size and all those terms tied to emotional mind-fuckery start to quietly sort themselves out in the background.”