One of the biggest health problems facing this country is obesity which is primarily due to our consumption of “empty calories.”
The term “empty calories” refers to a group of foods that provide little to no nutritional value, yet still have calories in them – typically a lot of calories! That makes the term a bit deceiving, because the calories in these types of foods are actually anything but “empty.”
A typical selection of empty-calorie foods includes cakes, pies, beer, soft drinks, candy and French Fries. Here are a few simple strategies for eliminating empty calories from your diet:
Go slow. Your primary strategy should involve slowly switching from consuming empty calories to eating more nutrient-dense foods. Make one change a week and try to maintain it.
Be smart when it comes to the food you eat. Gradually eliminate all foods made with high levels of sugar and white flour. Deep-fried foods, processed foods, and foods high in saturated and trans fats should also be gradually eliminated from your diet. It’s OK to have an occasional treat from these food types, but they should be a rare exception.
Your best friends are fruits and vegetables. Start by eating something familiar such as cucumbers, peppers or tomatoes. Enjoy oranges, bananas, grapes, watermelons and apples. Vegetables such as celery and carrot sticks make good substitutes for chips. Fruits can easily satisfy a sweet tooth. When you get accustomed to eating familiar types of both, you can get more adventurous with many other types.
Replace soft drinks with water. Instead of getting a soft drink (a classic example of empty calories) every time you are thirsty, drink water. If you are really addicted to these types of drinks – and many people are – try to at least alternate between soft drinks and water, particularly while transitioning from empty calories to better ones.
Breakfast calories are the most important. Research suggests that eating
breakfast, particularly if it contains some protein, can hold off hunger for hours. Your body converts the amino acids from protein into blood sugar that act as tiny time-release energy capsules, which can keep you from overeating for the remainder of the day.