Wellness for the Family: Avoiding Empty Calories
Childhood obesity is a big problem – and most of the time, it can be traced back to unhealthy eating habits. Many of these habits are related to consuming empty calories. “Empty calories basically means that there is no real nutritional value,” explained registered dietitian, Grace Doracha. “It’s added sugars and the extra bad fats with no real benefit to our bodies”.
A recent research study was done, and it shows that 25 percent of calories that kids are consuming are ’empty’. We sat down with Grace to learn more about empty calories, and how to get our children, and ourselves, to make better decisions.
“Our babies and toddlers are getting introduced to processed sugars to early in life,” Grace said. Processed foods like candies, sweets and baked goods are given more frequently, which may lead to our teenagers and young adults to consume more sugar and fats. “They are having more fried things like french fries and pizza. Then they consume their sugars through energy drinks and pop”.
So how do we get children to make better choices?
- Remind them it is a treat and not a substitute for a nutritious meal.
- Explain why healthy food is good for them. For example, “This broccoli will help your body so you can run a little faster”.
- For the older kids, have them write down and make themselves aware of how they feel after consuming empty calories. “After you ate those fries, did you feel tired?”.
- Parents need to eat healthy too. Children imitate their parents, and if their parents have unhealthy eating habits, they have a higher chance of doing the same.
For more wellness advice from dietitian, Grace Doracha, or other BCBS health professionals, click here.