Healthy Foods with Hidden Calories: How to Make the Right Choices

Healthy eating is not just about the nutritional content of the food we consume, but also about practicing mindful eating. Mindful eating involves being present and aware of our food choices, eating slowly, and paying attention to our body’s hunger and fullness cues. In addition to being mindful of what we eat, it is also important to be aware of hidden calories, sugars, and unhealthy fats that can sneak into our diets. By being mindful of our food choices and understanding the potential impact of hidden calories, we can make informed decisions that promote a healthier lifestyle. This blog post aims to provide valuable insights and tips on how to make the right choices when it comes to healthy foods, while also highlighting the importance of mindful eating in our overall health and wellbeing. 


Understanding Calories and Nutritional Value 

Calories, as a unit of energy, are vital for the proper functioning of the human body. They fuel our activities and support essential bodily functions. However, it’s crucial to strike a delicate balance when it comes to calorie intake. Consuming excess calories can lead to weight gain and an increased risk of various health issues, such as heart disease and diabetes. 

It’s worth noting that not all calories are created equal. While some foods provide high nutritional value along with calories, others offer little to no nutritional value despite their calorie content. Understanding the quality of calories consumed plays a significant role in maintaining a healthy diet and overall wellbeing. 

By focusing on nutrient-dense foods and mindful eating, we can ensure that our calorie intake supports our health and helps us achieve our wellness goals. A balanced approach to calories, along with regular physical activity, is key to maintaining a healthy weight and promoting optimal wellbeing. 


Common Healthy Foods with Hidden Calories 

We often underestimate the calorie content of certain healthy foods. Here are some examples: 

  • Avocado: Avocados are packed with nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fibre. However, they are also high in calories, with one medium-sized avocado containing around 250 calories. While it is still beneficial for your health, it is essential to consume avocado in moderation. 
  • Nuts and Seeds: Nuts and seeds are nutrient-dense and are an excellent source of healthy fats, fibre, and protein. However, they are also high in calories, and portions should be carefully measured, as it is easy to overeat. A single serving (30 grams) of almonds, for example, contains around 160 calories. 
  • Dried Fruits: Dried fruits such as raisins, dates, and apricots are high in fibre, vitamins, and minerals. However, they are also high in sugar and calories, making it easy to overeat. A cup of raisins, for example, contains over 400 calories and 90 grams of sugar. 
  • Whole Wheat Bread: Whole wheat bread is a healthier alternative to white bread, but it is still calorie-dense. It is important to note that the calorie content of bread can vary considerably. A single slice can contain anywhere from 70 to 130 calories, depending on the size and thickness. 
  • Fruit Juices and Smoothies: Fruit juices and smoothies can be a healthy addition to your diet, but they often contain high amounts of sugar and calories. Some smoothies can contain more calories than a fast-food burger! Be sure to read the labels and choose options that are lower in sugar and calories. 


Reading Nutrition Labels Accurately 

When it comes to reading nutrition labels, it can sometimes feel a bit challenging. However, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of what you are consuming. Pay close attention to foods that are not only low in calories, sugar, and saturated fats but also rich in essential nutrients. Additionally, keep in mind that the ingredients are listed in order of quantity, with the first ingredient being the most prominent one. By taking these factors into consideration, you can make more informed choices about the food you put into your body. 


Alternatives to High-Calorie Healthy Foods 

When it comes to healthy eating, there’s a wide array of alternatives to high-calorie foods that are both nutritious and mouth-watering. Instead of reaching for calorie-dense options, consider incorporating whole foods into your diet, such as an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and fish. As for snacks, you can indulge in tasty choices like air-popped popcorn, creamy hummus, and low-fat yogurt, which not only satisfy your cravings but also provide a healthier alternative to high-calorie treats like chips and sweets. By making these simple yet impactful choices, you can nourish your body with wholesome goodness while still enjoying delicious flavours. 


Integrating Mindful Eating into Your Diet 

Mindful eating is a mindful practice that involves being fully present and aware of the experience of eating. By adopting this approach, you can cultivate a deeper connection with your food and your body. It allows you to tune in to your body’s cues, helping you recognise when you are full and satisfied, thereby preventing overeating. 

When you practice mindful eating, you take the time to sit down and truly engage with your meals. You appreciate the textures, aromas, and flavours of the food as you chew slowly and savour every bite. This heightened sense of awareness allows you to fully enjoy and develop a greater appreciation for the nourishment that food provides. 


Expert Opinions and Advice 

Nutritionists and dietitians recommend being mindful of portion sizes and hidden calories. When it comes to healthy eating, balance is key. Incorporating a variety of foods into your diet, exercising regularly, and consuming everything in moderation will significantly benefit your overall health. 

To find out the nutritional content and estimated calories contained in a wide range of food, you can search the Australian Food Composition Database (AFCD). 


Achieving a Balanced Diet for Optimal Wellbeing 

In conclusion, it’s clear that maintaining a balanced diet goes beyond just counting calories. It’s about understanding the nutritional content of foods and taking a mindful approach to what we consume. While some wholesome foods may have hidden calories, it doesn’t diminish their nutritional value. It simply means we need to be mindful of portion sizes and have a good understanding of nutrition. Remember, a diet rich in varied and nutritious foods, along with regular physical activity, is the recipe for a healthy and vibrant life. So let’s embrace this journey together! 


Want to further your understanding on making mindful food choices? Become a nutrition coach with Onfit, and help yourself and others achieve their nutrition goals to live a healthier lifestyle!