Dietitian's Diary: How to cut empty calories

Man eating healthier

A certain amount of kilojoules (or calories) we eat every day comes from food or drinks that add little to the nutritional value of our diet. At the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet we call these foods 'Indulgences'.

Some of these indulgences are easy to avoid and you probably do every day. But some are hidden in our food that we eat without thinking.

While you don’t have to eliminate all indulgences from your diet, cutting back on these foods is an easy way to get closer to your weight loss goals.

Our dietitians speak with our members every day through our Premium Program and have gained a wealth of knowledge about everyday challenges to losing weight.

What's your relationship with food? Find out which Diet Type you are with our 3-minute assessment. 

Mindful meals

Mindfulness is the talk of the town these days and when it comes to eating it has some real benefits. Being mindful about what you're eating means you'll pay attention to what you're eating, eat slower, and probably stop eating when you're feeling full.

Put your knife and fork down between each mouthful and really enjoy that meal you cooked! And it goes without saying: don't eat in front of the TV, computer, or while scrolling on your phone. Having a TV dinner may seem like a small reward after a long day but it can be detrimental to your eating habits. 

Remember to stay hydrated

Some people confuse thirst with hunger and end up eating something when what they really need is a glass of water. Water is free, calorie-free and available everywhere.

Keeping a bottle of water handy makes it easy to take a big chug at regular intervals, which can do wonders for your wellbeing.

The best sign that you're well hydrated is when your urine is a light straw colour, so keep an eye on it and keep sipping!

Ditch the soft drinks

Enjoying a soft drink can be a nice way to take a breather and break up the day but soft drinks are purely empty calories. A couple of cans of soft drink each day adds a tremendous amount of calories to your diet without any nutritional value.

A single can of Coke, for example, contains 40 g of sugar, which is almost half of your daily recommended dietary intake. Ditch soft drinks entirely – or choose a diet version if you don't want to stop completely. 

Keep healthy snacks handy

When the urge for a sugar high strikes in the afternoon, it is often too late. You can avoid these empty calories by snacking on something healthy instead.

Make it easy for yourself by cutting up portion sizes in advance. Seal everything up in a container and keep it in the fridge for when you need a quick bite. Slices of pear, apple, carrot, cucumber, celery sticks and nuts all make for a tasty snack when you need a break. 

Learn more: 10 quick afternoon snacks

Trim the fat

While fat marbled in the meat adds flavour, excess fat on meat adds nothing but unnecessary calories to your meals. Cut these strips off before cooking to remove the empty calories, especially when cooking fatty cuts like lamb shoulder, pork belly and beef ribs.

Learn more: Healthy fats vs bad fats

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