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Health Tip: Budget Your Calories

-- The U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests that you budget calories the way you do money -- in general, don't use more than you need.

The agency refers to calories consumed beyond what are essential as "discretionary" calories. It offers these suggestions to help you manage discretionary calories while maintaining a healthy weight:

  • The agency suggests you consume a relatively small amount of discretionary calories -- 100 to 300 extra calories each day. The total can vary somewhat based on how much physical activity you get.
  • The discretionary calorie allowance can be used on "goodies" that contain solid fats or added sugars. Examples include whole milk, cheese, sausage, biscuits, or sweetened cereals or yogurt.
  • The discretionary allowance can also be used by adding a sauce, dressing, butter or sweetened syrup to your food.
  • Other goodies that may qualify for this allowance include candy, alcohol or soda.
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Posted: January 2009