To Your Health
October, 2009 (Vol. 03, Issue 10)
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  • Buy pre-cut fruits and vegetables. They may cost a bit more than unprepared fruits and vegetables, but they're ready to eat. This is particularly important on those days when you're rushing around and have limited time to prepare meals and snacks.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables at every meal. For snacks, try raisins or apple slices. Easy to prepare and package, low in calories and high in nutrition.

  • Keep fruits and vegetables at eye level in the refrigerator or on the counter. Make them easy to find and you'll be more likely to eat them.

  • Skip the potatoes. They have a high glycemic index compared to other vegetables such as string beans, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower or peas.

Other Helpful Hints

Replace soft drinks with water. Instead of getting a soft drink (a classic example of empty calories) every time you are thirsty, drink water. If you are really addicted to these types of drinks - and many people are - try to at least alternate between soft drinks and water, particularly while you're transitioning from empty calories to better ones. Better yet, don't wait until you're thirsty. Since you need to drink 6-8 glasses of water every day (64 oz), drink water every few hours, keeping in mind that soft drinks don't count toward that number.

Family eating - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Read all food labels very carefully. There are plenty of deceptive products out there; fruit juices are a good example. You think because it has a word like "fruit" that it has to be good for you. Not necessarily so. Almost all commercially prepared fruit juices contain high-fructose corn syrup, which from a nutritional point of view is the same as sugar. It also means that they are nutritionally dead (unless the manufacturer happens to add a few vitamins) and don't have the nutrients that are so abundant in fresh fruit. To maximize wellness, you need to learn to read and understand food labels; that way, you'll understand what you're putting in your body and whether its nutritive or not.

Breakfast calories are the most important. Research conducted at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine concluded that eating breakfast, particularly if it contains some protein, can hold off hunger for hours. Your body converts the amino acids from protein into blood sugar that act as tiny time-release energy capsules, which can keep you from overeating for the remainder of the day. This important study also made a number of other interesting observations about the value of a healthy breakfast, which are a perfect way to wrap up our discussion of empty calories and leave you with some take-home points to consider:

  • Breakfast eaters are less likely to choose "high-calorie junk food" during the remainder of the day.
  • Calorie-dense nutrients consumed at breakfast may make it easier to perform physical activity.
  • Breakfast eaters engage in more physical exercise than non-eaters.
  • Eating breakfast regularly may stimulate low-calorie, low-fat eating habits.

Remember that deficiencies in nutrients do not occur because we don't get enough to eat. The real culprit is the poor nutritional quality of what we eat, foods overloaded with calories and deficient in nutrition; in short - too many empty calories and not enough nutrition. Talk to your doctor for more information.

Donald L. Hayes, DC, graduated from Western States Chiropractic College in 1977 and is the author of five health and wellness books including his latest, Weight Loss to Wellness. To learn more, visit