Sunday, March 1, 2009

Empty Calories

Years of analyzing peoples' diets to check where the fault lies, has taught me that by simply making the person conscious of what is called 'empty' calories,goes a long way in helping them get into a healthy diet pattern. So,what are these so called 'empty' calories?They are foods/ingredients which provide no additional nutrition other than calories,and the three main culprits are:
  1. Sugar
  2. Oil(yes,they do have Essential fatty acids,but we don't need to drink oil to get them)
  3. Colas and Alcohol
I would say sugar and products containing sugar and the oil/butter/ghee we use in our day to day foods are the major source of 'empty' calories.Has anyone ever wondered how many teaspoons of sugar he/she consumes in a day? I've known so many to take around 20-24 teaspoons of sugar just in their tea/coffees (excluding that which is present in sweets/colas).Take this quiz I found on CNN Health,to see if you are aware of the number of liquid calories you could be having in a day. Try and limit your sugar consumption to just 3-4 teaspoons/day.
Next comes oil.I've always mentioned in all my articles that you don't have to drown the food in oil.All oils including olive oil (extra virgin varieties too)contain the same calories,and hence need to be limited. Use just about one teaspoon for cooking the entire dish.Your monthly oil allowance should not be more than half a liter per person per month (if you eat all three meals at home).
I've clubbed colas and alcohol together as I believe that these need to be eliminated(especially colas) in the quest for better health. I came across a lot of people who would have atleast 2-3 colas a day and end the week with alcohol. Along with alcohol, came the other no-no's:the chips,fries,colas and all the regular high calorie foods.
Weekend binging on foods which you have managed to avoid through the week will bring back all the calories you managed to cut from your diet. At the end, the weight loss will not be significant,which generally makes the person put the blame on the diet (if not the dietitian).
If you can bring down the use of these 'empty calories' to it's bare minimum,half your battle would be won (the other half would depend on the amount of exercise you put it).
If you want to know more about which are the other foods that are high in sugar,then check out this wonderful article on WebMD called 'Sugar Shockers-Foods surprisingly high in sugar'.


sangeeta said...

hi sweta
so nice of you to take time for me...........and no dear i havn't met any dietitian ( let alone a good dietitian)so for the diet plans i was talking about were those fad diet plans which i get to know about in lifestyle magazines or newspaper supplements............actually you know sweta i keep criticizing my type of people only ....who know everything and still think that knowing is enough n there is no need to practice what you know...n most of all we don't realize how healthy living can cure our problems......i think i could not make my point clear in that post of mine.....i need to write another one, will do it soon...

thanks for your advice n waiting for your next post.....i actually look up to you dear...

Anonymous said...

Hi Sweta,
Nice to see your posts.I think your tips will b helpful.Your interview section is also nice. The experience shared by Sridharan Sriram makes is quiet relevant.
Good work.

Yasmeen said...

good points,Sweta.One question though,what is the required daily consumption of fat for adults?
I use Olive oil,little more liberally cause ,its more easily flushed out than other kinds.I would love to know the limit ,1 tablespoon or 1 teaspoon,how much is enough per day?


Sweta (My Indian Dietitian) said...

Yasmeen-I would say that as little as 3-4 teaspoons of oil/day/per adult is more than enough.The rest would come from invisible fats present in vegetables,fruits and nuts.
I personally use about 4 teaspoons of oil for the entire days' cooking. Also,I make it a point to buy a different cooking oil every time!