My editor's page asking readers to talk about their relationship with the calorie has produced some fascinating letters. No surprise: many have to do with weight loss. Stephanie, below, has seen at close quarters the cost of obsessive calorie-watching:

I have never counted calories for many different reasons over the years. When I was in my teens it was a matter of youthful disregard. In my early twenties, my sister moved into my city apartment to live with my husband and me while she attended college nearby. While she lived with us, I realized that she had anorexia and bulimia. First thing I did was throw out every scale in the house, including the food scales I used in my kitchen (I'm a chef). Ten years later, I had an intervention for my sister at my house; now she is truly healthy, and her relationship with food is healthy. Finding out my sister was sick only enforced my lack of regard for calorie counting, and to this day I still don't own a scale.

I eat everything in moderation; the chef in me won't consider giving up anything for good, so once in a while, I have some baguette or some good Tuscan bread with my soups and stews. I'm 46 now, at 5'9" and 140 lbs and after four children, I am the same weight I was when I graduated high school. I learned from my sister's struggles that calorie counting can become an obsession. Really, I think calorie counting serves as a distraction from one of life's great pleasures: a good meal.


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