Empty Calories. Are You Eating More of Them Than You Think?

Food today isn’t as straightforward as it was many years ago.

In the past we ate purely what we grew and followed the seasons. Now our choices are seemingly endless.

Our supermarket aisles are filled with packaged foods that are convenient, long lasting and with lists of ingredients that would have the best of us scratching our heads. With most of us leading busy lives, especially those raising children, these foods too easily creep into our cupboards and can begin making up the majority of a child’s diet. But do these foods nourish a growing body? Have we become so busy and removed that we forget to stop and ask the question, “Are these real foods?”

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The term ‘empty calories’ refers to foods that provide energy yet lack nutrients. Think of nutrients as fuel for your car, you wouldn’t put low octane fuel into an Aston Martin and still expect to get optimum performance.

Not surprisingly, examples of foods containing empty calories include cakes, biscuits, pastries, shop-bought desserts, soft drinks and sweetened fruit drinks. Unfortunately for some, alcoholic drinks such as beer, wine and spirits also contain high numbers of empty calories. But don’t despair! It’s not all bad news.

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Nutrients are substances found in food that provide the necessary means for the body to develop and survive. They act like the lock and key, allowing essential pathways to function optimally. It’s not just important for us to feed our kids wholesome, balanced diets but fundamental in the support of healthy growing brains and bodies.

Let’s think about breakfast for instance, the meal that gets the cogs turning and pathways connecting first thing in the morning. A piece of vegemite white bread toast appears to satiate your child, but lacks adequate nutrition to sustain energy for a day of learning.

‘Nutrient dense’ refers to foods that are high in nutrients, which in turn nourish the body. These are predominantly wholefoods, which are closest to their natural state, such as wholegrains, fruits and vegetables. A balanced meal contains all three macro-nutrients: quality carbohydrates, protein and good fats. Take that piece of toast and replace it with quality wholegrain bread and add a boiled egg. Voila!

Depriving our children of meeting the daily nutritional requirements of macro and micro-nutrients can, in the short term, result in mood changes and impact energy levels. In the long-term it can contribute to a lack of emotional and physical growth and development, as well as disease.

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Every meal is an opportunity to nourish our bodies and one not to be missed. Don’t be fooled by the marketing masquerade and take control of your family’s health. Start to look at each meal and ask yourself, “Is this real food? Is this a balanced meal? Will this support my child’s development?” Take small steps to alter your food choices and meal preparation because the changes you make now will positively impact your children’s health for their rest of their lives.



If you are enjoying our nutrition posts then download your FREE Low Sugar Lunchboxes eBook here and stay nourished!  

If you’re ready for a healthy change,  a non-extreme approach to reducing sugar then join us for our February Low Sugar Kids Program, a 28-day qualified nutrition and kid approved program with a rock solid Money Back Guarantee. 

Michele Chevalley Hedge, nutritionist, mum, Jamie Oliver Ambassador and founder of A Healthy View.


Avatar of Michele Chevalley Hedge

Michele Chevalley Hedge is a qualified nutritionist and a real life mum who understands ‘busy parents”. She created a Low Sugar Lifestyle program for people who want to improve their health without an extreme approach. Michele is also an ambassador for Jamie Oliver & is Mum Central's health and low sugar ambassador, and the powerhouse behind our Low Sugar Kids program.

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