I was chatting with my daughter today and she expressed, once again, her dismay that so few people seem to consider how nutrient deficient their food choices can be. She likened a small croissant at more than 400 calories to a bowl of blueberries containing the same number of calories. If you haven’t seen the comparison 125 blueberries or 1-1/4 cups is worth 100 calories. Times that by four and that’s a lot of blueberries!
In terms of nutrition for us humans, the term “empty calories” applies to foods and beverages composed primarily or solely of sugar, fats or oils (the unhealthy variety widely and generously used by food manufacturers), or alcohol-containing drinks. For example, carbonated soft drinks, energy drinks and fruit juices; cakes, cookies, pastries, donuts; processed meats and processed cheeses are all sources of empty calories. All of these provide food energy but little or no other nutrition in the way of vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber or essential fatty acids.
A very small amount of empty calories is okay, but most people eat far more than is healthy since the proportion of nutrients relative to energy content is way out of balance.
Here’s a thought … when the urge for something sweet strikes again, why not try a juicy peach or half a banana? You’ll at least be getting some nutrition that will help your body as opposed to taking in something that could be causing you harm.