Insights & Actions for Healthy Living

What are empty calorie foods that I should avoid?

Eating foods packed with nutrition and not just calories is a great health goal!

Eating better will help us get the nutrition we need without excessive calories that can put our bodies out of balance. Selecting foods that are more nutrient dense than calorie dense will bolster your health while it controls your waistline.

When we get out of balance with the calories we eat in the extreme compared to the calories we use, this imbalance leads to weight gain. Staying in balance will help us not only maintain a healthy weight but get to our goal weight when we manage our calorie balance.

Unfortunately, many of us are eating foods that have empty calories – that is, calories that don’t give us nutrients at the same time they pack in the calories.

What foods are considered empty?

There are many foods that we eat or drink that have calories without good nutrition. Here are some that you may want to avoid and find alternates for better health.

  • Soda – Sugar sweetened beverages like soda, sports drinks or iced tea give us calories without nutrients. It is better to drink water or occasionally non-caloric beverages which don’t offer nutrients but neither do they add in calories.
  • Solid fats – when fat is added by food processors it usually doesn’t give more nutrients only extra calories. Solid fats include beef fat, shortening, margarine and butter. Limit the higher fat meats you eat such as sausage, lunch meat, ribs as well as other high fat foods such as chips and fried foods. You can also use low fat dairy in place of whole fat dairy choices.
  • Added sugar – another source of calories without nutrition is the sugar or sweeteners added by manufacturers to foods. These are often found in sweets, baked goods, ice cream, sweetened canned fruits or applesauce, and sugar sweetened cereals.
  • Alcoholic beverages – drinks such as beer, wine and alcohol add considerable calories, especially those made with sugary mixers, without providing much in the way of nutrients.

Some empty calorie foods are OK but limiting them whenever possible by substituting healthier choices will not only provide you with more essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals and protein but help you maintain your calorie balance!

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