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Discretionary calories are left over calories once the
recommended nutrient intake is met. We all have a specific amount of calories
to meet that is based on our activity level, gender, age, weight, and height.

Discretionary calories mainly come from foods that are high in sugars and solid
fats (e.g. sausage, salad dressing, candies, sodas etc.) Consuming foods that
are high in sugars and solid fats will create an excess of calories that will
be stored and form as fat instead of being used for energy. This can lead to
health problems such as obesity, heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure,
fatty liver disease and even cancer. It is important to have an active
lifestyle to balance your calories intake with your calorie output to avoid
these mentioned health problems. Now since discretionary calories derive from
foods that are high in sugars and solid fats, there are alternatives to help
address the excess consumption of discretionary calories. The alternative
sweeteners are called Sugar alcohols (sometimes referred as nutritive
sweeteners) and nonnutritive sweeteners. Sugar alcohol are carbohydrates that
occur “in fruits and vegetables” and can cause side effects like “gas,
abdominal discomfort and diarrhea”. The only advantage is that it will not
cause dental caries. The nonnutritive sweeteners have no carbohydrates, but it
is recommended to use this type of sweetener. As stated in the book, the “FDA
endorses nonnutritive sweeteners as safe for use over a lifetime within
Acceptable Daily Intake”. In other words, if you consume only the approved
foods it can be safe and will not affect your health. The fat choice that will
help with discretionary calories are consuming foods with unsaturated fat.

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Research shows that fats that are saturated or trans fats can lead to health
issues like diabetes, obesity, cholesterol etc. To avoid eating saturated or
trans fats, it will be recommended to learn how to read food labels to help
maintain a healthy lifestyle. In my opinion, the consumption of these
alternatives can address body weight. It is stated that the nonnutritive
sweeteners “results in modest weight loss and may be helpful in improving
compliance with weight-loss or weight-maintenance plans”. The choice of eating
low saturated or trans fats within kcalorie limits have also been proven to
help live a healthy and happy lifestyle with no health complications.

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