A week on my nutritional program, I had my first meeting with my nutritionist. She reviewed my food diary for the week and found some points for improvement. Then, she handed me a reading on Empty Calories.
Empty calories are foods that are high in calories (energy rich) but low in nutritional value (nutrient dense).
Here are examples of empty caloric foods:
1. French fries, fried chicken, and all other deep fried foods
2. Hamburgers, hotdogs and pizzas
3. Candy and other sweetened packages foods
4. Beer, wine and other sweetened packages foods
5. Refined grains such as crackers, cookies, cakes and pastries
7. Sodas and other sweetened beverages (mostly carbonated drinks, but also include powdered fruit drinks, powdered and bottled iced tea)
8. Ice cream and other frozen desserts
9. Margarine, shortening, butter, lard and other saturated fats
10. Sauces and gravies
As you can see, most of these are staple foods in our diet. But we can learn to avoid these foods and manage our unhealthy intakes. Here are some tips:
1. Avoid deep fried foods. Instead of deep frying, you may use other cooking methods like boiling, baking, grilling or broiling.
2. Use non-stick pans to avoid use of oil in pan frying.
3. Avoid sweetened drinks and canned drinks.
4. Check out whole grains instead of refined ones. Whole grains are packed with beneficial fiber and anti-oxidants.
5. Snack on fruits and crunchy vegetables.
6. Check the nutrition labels for hidden sugars and fats.
7. Plan ahead. Think of what to eat before you leave for lunch or going out for meals. Know what you will be having throughout the day.
8. Bring your own home-cooked meals. Pack a snack.
Like all things in life, maintaining good nutrition is all about making the right choices. Before I started with my diet, I chose to eat mostly empty caloric foods. But, believe it or not, there are healthy choices out there. You just have to look harder.