Education

Tonight’s Empowerment topic is Education.

It’s important to be educated when making decisions. For example, you wouldn’t just go to a car dealership and point to a car and say “I’ll take it!” Chances are you’d read up on different makes and models, gas mileage comparisons, cost of insurance, safety recalls, etc. So why as Americans are we so uneducated when it comes to food and food choices. Your journey will not be a success without learning a few tricks of the trade.

1) Read labels

2) Don’t consume/drink your calories

3) Don’t skip meals

4) In order to lose weight you have to exercise

5) Stay hydrated

I’m sure you’re completely aware that all 5 of those points are necessary for weight loss as well as maintaining a healthy life style. But I want to touch further on #2. So many people are unaware that they are consuming empty calories, in addition to drinking their calories. While for some, calorie counting isn’t necessary while for others it’s quite possibly the only way to stay accountable. Below are some interesting facts about empty calories, some may surprise and some you may already know. So take notes friends and stop wasting those calories!!

Empty Calories = High Calories but Low Nutrition

There are basically two empty-calorie culprits in our diets:

  • Anything with lots of sugar or other sweeteners
  • Anything with lots of fat and oil

Culprit #1: Anything with Lots of Sugar or Other Sweeteners

There’s no way to sugarcoat the truth — Americans are eating more sugar than ever before. Researchers from the University of NorthCarolina at Chapel Hill determined that, on average, Americans are consuming 83 more calories per day from caloric sweeteners than they did in 1977. And those extra 83 calories a day turn into a whopping 2,490 calories per month.

To what items do we point the finger as the primary cause of these extra calories? Shockingly, it’s not even food we eat — these added calories come mainly from soft drinks and fruit drinks.

The latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals lists the top five food categories that contribute added sugar to women’s diets as:

Food Average number of teaspoons of sugar (or equivalent) per serving
1. Soda and sweetened beverages (mostly carbonated soft drinks, but also includes fruit “drinks” and “ades” and bottled iced teas). 9 teaspoons per 12-ounce serving of soda; 12 teaspoons per 12-ounce serving of fruit drink or ade.
2. Cakes, cookies, pastries, and pies. 6 teaspoons in 1/16 of a pie or frosted cake.
3. Sugar or sugar substitute blends such as syrups, honey, molasses, and sweet toppings. 3 teaspoons per tablespoon of syrup or honey.
4. Candy. 3 teaspoons per 1-ounce chocolate bar.
5. Frozen milk desserts (includes ice cream and frozen yogurt). 3 teaspoons per 1/2 cup

So, besides staying away from soda, be sure to watch for sneaky sugar calories from these items:

  • Other sweetened drinks. Lemonades, sports drinks, and fruit drinks.
  • Fancy coffee and tea drinks (hot or cold). These can be loaded with sugar calories. A 9.5-ounce bottled coffee drink contains around 190 calories and almost 8 teaspoons of sugar.
  • Snack cakes, pastries, and breakfast/cereal bars. Toaster pastries, granola bars, and breakfast bars fall into this category. One little toaster pastry has around 200 calories and almost 5 teaspoons of sugar. A 4-ounce supermarket blueberry muffin can contain about 420 calories and more than 8 teaspoons of sugar.
  • Sweetened hot and cold cereals. Check out the labels before you buy your breakfast cereals, because they list the grams of added sugar per serving. A packet of flavored instant oatmeal contains around 150 calories and around 4 teaspoons of sugar! Sugar is usually the second ingredient listed in the ingredient list.
  • Condiments. Pancake syrup and even catsup can add on the sugar calories if you are heavy handed. A 1/4-cup serving of pancake syrup has about 210 calories and 10 teaspoons of sugar, and 1/4-cup of catsup contains around 60 calories and 4 teaspoons of sugar!

Culprit #2: Anything with Lots of Fat and Oil

Although some fats and oils contain vitamins and important fatty acids such as omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats, foods loaded with fats and oils are often empty-calorie culprits. This is particularly true when the food is full of trans fats and saturated fats; deep-fried French fries, potato chips, popcorn chicken that has more fried crumb topping than chicken, and high-fat crackers made with white flour are all examples. Since we’re talking about empty calories, it’s important to note that gram for gram, fat has more than two times the calories of carbs or protein. In other words, a gram of fat has around 9 calories, while a gram of protein or carbohydrate has 4 calories. When foods have lots of added fats and oils, the calories can go through the roof pretty quickly.

Top five high-fat, empty-calorie culprits:

Fast food. Swearing off fast food isn’t the only answer. We can make better choices at fast food chains, such as ordering charbroiled chicken sandwiches (hold the mayonnaise), bean burritos, and pizza with extra tomato sauce and vegetable toppings. And we can eat fast food less often — maybe once a week instead of every day. or NOT AT ALL!!! 😉

Mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is basically made up of three ingredients: vegetable oil, egg yolks, and vinegar (it’s not the vinegar that I’m worried about). Mayonnaise makes this list because it is loaded with calories and fat grams. Many people slather around 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise or mayonnaise-based sauces on their sandwich. This adds up to 198 calories and 22 grams of fat. See what I mean?

Chips and microwave popcorn. Although the potato and corn kernels that go into making these popular snack items have some nutritional value, once you coat them in partially hydrogenated oil, they top the charts in calories and fat grams. A 2-ounce bag of potato chips contains around 303 calories and 20 grams of fat. A bag of microwave popping corn (not the light kind) totals 435 calories and 25 grams of fat. Go for the Smart Pop!!!

Crackers. Crackers may seem like they would be good snack choices. But if you look on the ingredient labels, they’re usually just white flour with partially hydrogenated fat — neither of which does much for the nutritional value of your diet. Calories and fat can add up quickly here, too. A 2-ounce serving of Ritz Bits, for example, totals 302 calories and 17 grams of fat, while the same size serving of cheese crackers comes to around 285 calories and 14 grams of fat.

Packaged frozen snacks. Walk down the frozen-food aisle and you’ll find scores of packaged savory snacks just waiting to be popped into the microwave: hot pockets, pizza rolls, egg rolls, etc. Trouble is, these are full of partially hydrogenated fats and oils. Just one pepperoni pizza pocket totals around 510 calories and 26 grams of fat.

Let’s talk snacking and empty calories! We have all fallen victim those delicious little 100 calorie snack packs, and while I do agree that they are great in a pinch (especially a sweet treat pinch) they are loaded with sugar. (The cookie choices atleast). Instead of turning to a pre-packaged 100 calorie snacks, I have found a list of 20 100 Calorie NUTRIOUS snacks courtesy of WebMD! So say buh bye to Nabisco and try one of these on for size instead!!

100 Calorie Snacks: 20 Choices

1. Half an apple with 2 teaspoons of peanut butter
2. An orange and a few dry-roasted nuts
3. 10 cashew nuts
4. 10 almonds
5. 2 ounces of lean roast beef
6. Half a small avocado
7. 3 ounces cooked whole-grain noodles with 1 fresh tomato and 1/2 ounce hard cheese
8. 1 seven-grain Belgian waffle
9. 4 mini rice cakes with 2 tablespoons low-fat cottage cheese
10. 3 ounces low-fat cottage cheese and 3 whole-wheat crackers
11. 1/4 cup fat-free ranch dressing with mixed raw veggies
12. 6 Wheat Thins crackers with two teaspoons of peanut butter (or any nut butter)
13. 1 small baked potato with 1/2 cup salsa and 2 tablespoons of fat-free sour cream
14. 1/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce with 1 slice of whole-wheat toast, cut into 4 strips for dunking
15. 1/2 cup frozen orange juice, eaten as sorbet
16. 2 large graham cracker squares with 1 teaspoon peanut butter
17. 3 handfuls of unbutteredpopcorn, seasoned with herbs
18. 4-6 ounces of no-fat or low-fat yogurt
19. A 5-ounce tossed salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and 1/4 cup fat-free dressing
20. Half a “finger” of string cheese with 4 whole-wheat crackers

Lastly, drinking the calories! This is simple friends, stop with the soda, stop ordering your coffee with extra cream and sugar, watch the alcohol intake! Drink water, add a lemon if you have to-I DO! Order your coffee black and add your own cream/milk/sweetener etc.. and be knowledgeable at happy hour-anything creamy/blended-STAY AWAY!

To wrap up I want to touch on one last thing that’s important to me personally, and I feel we need more education on. Tomorrow, Thursday April 1st, kicks off Autism Awareness month. This is very important to me since my 2 year old son, Zachary, was just recently diagnosed. Please please please educate yourself on Autism. It’s becoming more widespread as a diagnoses, and we need to stay on top of it. Below is Zachary’s link for the 8th Annual Imagine Walk here in Rhode Island. All funds raised go to support families with Autistic children and fund local programs. A large sum will go towards educating teachers in how to properly teach children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. If you find it in your heart to give, it would be greatly appreciated! Even $1 will be appreciated!! Thank you to those who have already donated!! Have a great night friends.

Thanks for supporting Team Zac Attack http://www.firstgiving.com/zacharynorberg

3 comments
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  2. I completely agree with your #2 – soda, fruity drinks, whyyyyy consume calories from a beverage when you can eat them!

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