Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What Discretionary Calories Allowance Actually Is?

If you consistently build your diet by choosing mostly nutrient-dense foods that are low in solid fat and added sugars, you may be able to meet your nutrient needs without using your full calorie allowance. If so, you may have what is called a discretionary calories allowance for use in meeting the rest of your calorie needs.

Most discretionary calories allowances are very small, between 100 and 300 calories, especially for those who are not physically active. How do we track these extra calories?
One example is a regular 12-ounce soda that contains 155 calories but all 155 of these calories are from added sugars and, thus, are considered “discretionary” calories. Keep in mind that, for many people, the discretionary calories allowance is totally used up in the foods they choose in each food group, such as higher-fat meats, higher-fat cheeses, whole milk, and sweetened bakery products.

Your discretionary calories can be used to:
  • Eat additional nutrient-dense foods from each of the food groups, such as an extra container of low-fat yogurt or an extra piece of fruit.

  • Select limited amounts of foods that are not in their most nutrient-dense form and/ or contain solid fats or added sugars, such as whole milk, full-fat cheese, sausage, biscuits, sweetened cereal, and sweetened yogurt.

  • Add fats or sweeteners to foods, such as sauces, gravies, sugar, syrup, butter, and jelly.

  • Eat or drink items that contain only fats, caloric sweeteners, and/or alcohol, such as candy, soda, wine, and beer.

  • Added fats and sugars are always counted as discretionary calories, as in the following examples:
  • The fat in reduced-fat or whole milk or milk products and the sugar and fat in chocolate milk, ice cream, and pudding.

  • The fat in higher-fat meats (e.g., poultry with skin, higher-fat luncheon meats, sausages).

  • The sugars added to fruits, fruit juices, and fruits canned in syrup.

  • The fat in vegetables prepared with added fat.

  • The added fats and/or sugars in grain products such as sweetened cereals, higher-fat crackers, pies, cakes, and cookies.
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