Updated: Oct 26, 2018
I rarely start a post with an example of food, but I realize this title is so bizarre that it may need that!
Example: You eat a cheeseburger from McDonalds, a large french fries, and a diet soda. You may have just ingested around 800+ calories. You assume that with all of those calories you are certainly getting what you need in regards to nutrients, otherwise there wouldn't be so many calories. WRONG. You provided your body with fatty oils, sugar, chemicals, and very little nutrients.
Your body isn't getting any vitamins, minerals, or nutrients to build and repair cells or to turn on genes that fight diseases. So you just spent 800 calories on pretty much nothing. Now you may be thinking, "I don't eat McDonalds. This doesn't apply to me". Oh yeah? How was that steak, baked potato with butter/sour cream/cheese, and bread last night? How was that charcuterie board, white pasta with cream sauce (or tomato sauce with meatballs), and garlic bread?
You just wasted all those calories on scant nutrients! This is the equivalent of spending $800 on a windbreaker when you live in Colorado in February. Not going to really cut it when you need to get warm (also, how did you manage to find an $800 windbreaker?).
Now let's say you eat a meal of steamed broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, peas, on top of red quinoa. Let's top that with hummus to really get some extra flavor in there. That's around 350-450 calories. In that bowl you have cancer fighting foods, heart disease fighting foods, good cholesterol, blood pressure lowering foods, about 10-15 different vitamins and minerals, fiber, and some water.
This is the equivalent of spending $450 on northface snow boots, jacket/snow pants/fleece, beanie, long johns, and a new snowboard. That would cost upwards of $2,000. You are getting way more bang for your buck!
Why wouldn't you want to get your money's worth when it comes to your diet (I do mean this literally, it's much cheaper to not have to pay for dairy/meat/processed foods)? When you start thinking about your diet as your wallet then you are more ready to make changes. Your body is like your 401k, stop sucking it dry and start contributing to it!
Many people are not aware if their diets are full of empty calories or not. You think you are providing good options to your family by switching from butter to olive oil, but do you really know if there is any nutritional value to that olive oil? It's easy to make changes to add more nutrients to your diet and to get the most you possibly can out of your food.
It's pretty easy to spot foods that have no nutrients, or empty calories. Look no further than fast food restaurants, processed foods (chips, cookies, candy), butter, margarine, oils, alcohol, fruit juices, dairy, and meat. The olives are stripped of all their nutrients when they are made into an oil. When you ingest them you are pretty much just giving yourself empty calories that aren't contributing to the growth and repair of your cells. Dairy and meat may shock you, but it's true. Compared to vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds dairy and meat don't offer your body a whole lot when it comes to nutrients/vitamins/minerals.
Does it really matter if you are eating empty calories? You probably feel fine right? Maybe you think you feel fine, but you may also feel huge hunger pains when you start to get close to lunch or dinner. You may even get headaches when you feel the hunger coming on. The reason you are feeling that way is because your body is needing nutrients and the food that you fueled it with previously didn't do the job. If you are filling yourself up with processed food then your body may be addicted and needing the next hit of fat, sugar, and chemicals to keep it feeling normal. There is no reason to go through life as a food drug addict. However, with these foods low in nutrients, high in calories, and high in fat and sugar, that is exactly what is happening.
How do you make the change to give your body the nutrients it really needs? Go for a whole plant based diet. Get a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans/legumes, nuts, seeds, and spices. Check out the Daily Dozen app to see what you should be eating everyday. It shows you the amount of foods and the measurements so you are getting the perfect amount for your body.