Many of the foods and more commonly the beverages we consume contain empty calories. Empty calories are solid fats and/or added sugars that contain high amounts of calories but have very few or no nutritional value. Now more than ever specialty coffee, sodas, and energy drinks have become extremely popular but unfortunately are filled with sugar and artificial sweeteners. The problem with empty calories is that they do not keep us full very long because there is no nutritional value to satisfy the needs of our body to perform their daily functions. Because of the high amount of sugar and fat, they often give us a quick spike of energy and then a crashing effect shortly after. Not only are beverages a source of empty calories but foods like chips, fries, syrups, and salad dressings are culprits as well.
There are many steps we can take to insure the foods we are consuming are nutritional ones and not just full of empty calories. We need to have the mindset that food is designed to fuel our bodies to perform at its best ability. In our society we have forgotten that and we tend to eat to satisfy our taste buds instead and many times that is by comfort foods that usually lack nutrients but contain lots of sugar and fat. Below are some steps you can take to insure you are getting the most nutritional value for what you are eating.

Most people want to eat healthy but time gets in the way. We wait until we are starving at work and have nothing to eat and resort to convenience like fast food. Try making your grocery list on Saturday for the following week, shop, and then cook all your food for that week on Sunday. This is a great way to insure you have food made before your schedule gets hectic on that Monday and can be an easy way to avoid empty calories. If you are having trouble getting your family on board with the new changes, sit down with them and come up with new recipes you all want to try.

Keep healthy staples like beans, raw nuts, and quinoa in your pantry and stock
up on frozen veggies, berries, and chicken in your freezer. Personally, I
buy a big pack of boneless chicken and put two pieces in different zip lock bags with some marinate. Put them in the refrigerator for a whole day to allow the chicken to marinate and then put them in the freezer. The day you want to cook them, just pull a bag out that morning and let it thaw and cook that evening.
The chicken is perfectly marinated and requires little work, time, and energy.

Healthy snacks are a great way to bridge between meals so you don’t find yourself starving at the end of the day and go for unhealthy option from the vending machine or take out. Mix up some raw nuts and raisins, fresh veggies with hummus, or try apple slices or celery sticks with peanut butter.
These are a few tips to help make sure you are eating foods that are full of nutrients and fueling your body in a way that is the most beneficial. Time can be the biggest factor with healthy eating but with a little time management and meal prep, this is a really easy way to avoid those empty calories when hunger calls. Good luck and Happy 2016!

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