The Top 8 Foods Contributing “Empty” Calories To The Average Person’s Diet

Caloric excess and overweight are two of the most pressing public health concerns of the modern world.

Part of this problem is that we consume such a significant proportion of calories ( close to 25%)  from foods that provide us mostly excess calories and lack any great nutritional value.

These foods are considered “other foods” because they do not fit into any of the primary food groups.

I believe it is important for both the general public and health professionals to understand what these foods are, as they represent one of the main sources of unnecessary calories in our diets.

Let’s take a look at the top 8

1. Soft Drinks: Perhaps unsurprisingly, soft drinks represent the #1 most significant source of nutrient free calories.

2. Salad Dressings:  I quite often see both salads and weight loss goals compromised by the over use and poor selection of salad dressings.

3. Sugars/Syrups:  All that honey, syrup, jam you might add to your food adds up.

4. Beer: Sorry guys.

5. Fruit Drinks:  This refers  to fruit-flavoured drinks, and not 100% fruit juice which would qualify as a serving of fruit.

6.  Vegetable oils/Margarine: Yes, certain foods in this category provide nutrients and healthy fats, but the amounts consumed may still be problematic in some people.

7. Chips & Chocolate Bars:  The most popular “junk foods” in Canada, apparently.

8. Butter:  Let’s face it, we all know someone who spreads the butter on a little too thick.

Data sourced from Canadian Community Health Survey ( CCHS) 2004 

What can you do with this information?

That depends on who you are.

If you are a health professional

Not that you aren’t already, but be wary of these particular foods as a likely source of excess calories in your patients diet. Query your patients closely about the consumption of the foods if you suspect excess calories from an unidentified source.

If you are reading this for personal educational purposes

Be wary of the use of these foods in your diet, and the amount you use them in. If you are struggling to manage your weight, over consumption of these foods may be a primary culprit.

Regardless of your motivation for reading, I hope today’s article has provided you with some valuable insights.

Until next time,

Andy De Santis RD MPH

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