Fats and sugars: know your limits
"Empty Calories" are the calories from solid fats and added sugars in foods and beverages. They add to total calories, but provide no vitamins or minerals. Allowing too many can fill your child up without supplying the nutrients they need. Empty calories can also add more calories than they need.
Some examples of empty calories are:
- The sugars or sweeteners in soft drinks, fruit punch, candies, cakes, cookies, pies, and ice cream.
- The solid fats in cookies, cakes, pizza, cheese, sausages, fatty meats, butter, and stick margarine.
- Some foods – such as milk, yogurt, and cereals – provide important nutrients, but they can also contain some empty calories. For example, sweetened yogurt and sweetened breakfast cereals contain added sugars. Whole milk and cheese contain solid fat. Look for food choices that are low-fat, fat-free, unsweetened, or with no-added sugars.
There is room for foods with some empty calories from added sugars or solid fats now and then. But most daily food choices for preschoolers should be low in empty calories.
Here are some ideas to help you choose foods lower in empty calories for your preschooler:
Plain yogurt plus fruit
Fat-free or low-fat milk
Sweetened breakfast cereals
Cereals with little or no added sugar
Fried chicken or fried fish
Baked chicken or fish
Ice cream or frozen yogurt
Frozen fruits or frozen 100% fruit bars
Soft drinks or fruit punch
Baked chips or whole grain crackers
Butter or margarine
Trans fat-free tub margarine
Jam or jelly
100% fruit spread
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