After decades of trying to minimize the number we can be satisfied with, in the course of a day, i find myself a delighted contrarian on the subject now. Who'd'a' thunk it?
Calories, carbs, fat-grams, points -- it seems to help people focus on what they're doing, to have something to count. In fact it's an old esoteric secret, using something that's merely emblematic to focus concentration where it's needed to do a job (think voodoo doll, or an icon, mandala or candle-flame). Also, measuring things and mathematical gymnastics are "scientific" tools that help us to feel that what we're doing is based on solid, reliable FACT, rather than the shockingly-bad ideas which have gifted us with the "obesity epidemic."
It's easy for me and my contemporaries to remember back, and see how things have changed in the diet-and-health realm. When i was a child, there were darned few "fat kids" in our school; nobody but "health nuts" went out of their way to get exercise, and yet before the age of menopause/andropause few people were particularly overweight. These were the days when everybody ate white bread and drank whole milk, we weren't afraid of sugar, our home and school meals were full of fats AND carbs, and the only reason we used margarine in our house was because it was significantly cheaper than butter and we weren't very well off.
My kids, however, grew up in a society in which we were rather afraid of eating the "wrong" foods. In search of health, their generation has enjoyed a surprising lack of it: obesity, diabetes, infertility, mental disorders, ... i don't know where to stop. Suffice it to say, our dietary changes seem to have wrought a sad result -- all in the hopes of IMPROVING health. :-(
So here we are today, struggling to fix the damage done by the mistaken or greed- or fanatically-inspired diet advice of the last half-century. It's truly and disgustingly absurd how we have clung to some of the most archaic, simplistic non-science -- like the obsession with calories. Ironically, the Mephistopheles of my dietary-morality play, Ancel Keys, did a piece of early work which shines a beacon of brilliance upon this murky subject. The "starvation study" showed that low calorie intakes (higher than a lot of diet plans dictate) caused some nasty psychological effects, as well as other health issues. Calorie restriction was pretty well proven to be a bad idea -- yet that is the CONSTANT advice one is given for weight loss, improved health AND longevity.
For millions of years nobody counted calories, and the human race thrived and multiplied. Then suddenly people started paying attention to the situation in large numbers, and the situation went straight to hell. To me, this is just confirmation that whenever mankind sticks meddling fingers into natural processes, we fuck it up. Science thinks it knows a lot more than it really does -- be skeptical of its sweeping pronouncements!
So ignore calories! The only good use for paying attention to them is in making sure you're getting ENOUGH FAT. YES. This is opposite everything we learned before ... but we can all see where THAT idea has gotten us.