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Avoid “Empty” Foods

Por Claudia M. González, MS, RD, LD/N*, MyDiet™ -
Avoid “Empty” Foods

When we get cravings for snacks in between meals, we often pick high-sugar or high-fat (especially saturated fat) choices. This is not surprising if we think of the constant messages we get through advertising and special offers that make these types of foods very accessible and convenient. These food options include candy snacks, chips, soft drinks, and many others that, unfortunately, add many calories to your diet.

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Having these snacks every once in a while is not a problem. The problem arises when you start eating them more frequently, and you choose cookies, french fries, chocolate bars, or ice cream instead of a healthy food.

Since making the right choice when selecting a snack will help you control both your appetite and your weight, try to make fresh fruits or vegetables your first options. Besides satisfying your hunger, fruits and vegetables will provide you many vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which are essential elements for improving your health—and they provide very few calories.

It is not as difficult as it seems. Keep reading and we will give you some useful tips.

Avoid “empty” foods

Unfortunately, the foods that are more easily acquired are usually the ones that provide more calories.Many ready-to-eat foods, especially processed ones like sodas, chocolates, and hot dogs are very high in sugar and saturated fat.

These foods are known as “empty foods,” because just one serving may have many calories—and yet not satisfy your hunger. Moreover, if you include these foods frequently in your meals, the risk of gaining weight increases, as well as the possibility of suffering from different chronic diseases (like diabetes) or vitamin/mineral deficiencies.

Therefore, these foods should only be eaten sporadically, and not on a daily basis. Your health is worth much more than the convenience of opening a bag full of artificial ingredients.

No. 1 choices

Well-chosen, planned snacks are not only healthy and nourishing, but they can also be delicious and easy to prepare.Consider the following options:

  • Fruits. These are the fastest, healthiest, and most accessible snacks. There is a large variety of fruits, which are cultivated in different seasons of the year. This means you can vary them, according to the season. Fruits belong to the category of “dense foods,” because they are rich in many nutrients, but low in calories.
  • Salted, low-fat popcorn (remember to use salt in moderation).
  • Vegetables. You can make a nourishing, high-vitamin and high-mineral snack by combining different types of vegetables, such as carrots, celery, tomatoes, cucumber, and lettuce. Avoid adding high-calorie dressings to keep vegetables a healthy snack.

Meal planning: a key to success

One of the best tips we can give you is to plan your meals in advance (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks).This is a very useful tool to avoid eating unhealthy, high-calorie foods and to help you manage your weight.

A good strategy is to always have healthy foods in your refrigerator. When you have time to cook, make a delicious, healthy recipe, but try to prepare more than what you will eat, so you can keep the rest in the freezer. This way, you will always have a healthy choice and you won’t need to buy fast food or improvise when you are in a rush.

Keep in mind that when we are very hungry, we are capable of eating almost anything without giving it a thought.Therefore, be careful and keep healthy snacks handy.

 

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