Stop the NHS encouraging children to calorie count

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The Change4Life campaign aims to "help families to eat well, move more & live longer". Encouraging families to be active together, suggesting healthy delicious recipes, and advising how to approach the subject of nutrition and exercise with children are all excellent initiatives. 

However, a recent movement in their campaign is encouraging children to "Look for 100 calorie snacks". While this is a well-intentioned idea, it could be incredibly damaging to children's attitudes towards food, particularly in a society that has a growing obsession around looking good and weighing less (two mutually exclusive concepts, I must emphasise). 

In the worst years of my anorexia, tracking calories became an obsession, and there was not one item I picked up in the supermarket without checking its calorie and fat content. Even for fresh food that didn't have this information, I would whip out the MyFitnessPal app and get its full nutritional breakdown. As recently as last year I was still doing the same, kidding myself by claiming I was 'making sure I was eating enough'. I would fear calories, spend hours deliberating over the choice of a sandwich, calculate how much of my 'calorie budget' I had left to spend. 

Please, don't instill this attitude into kids. Teaching them that low calories = good, "gamifying" the process of calorie tracking, it goes against everything Change4Life represents, by putting children into a mindset that food is not something to be enjoyed, but a budget to be controlled. 

5 years ago I was skeletal, frail, shivering under three layers of clothing in the Boots meal deal section, comparing two salads to ensure I pick the one that "won't make me fat". Imagine me. Imagine that was your son, your brother, your dad.

I know it's an extreme, but I really want to get across that food should be a pleasure, something to be enjoyed, shared, talked about without reducing it to a number, or worse, how many minutes you'll need to jog on the treadmill to burn it off.