Avoid high-calorie foods and drinks

Limit fast food graphicLimit consumption of ‘fast foods’ and other processed foods high in fat, starches or sugars.

Limiting high-fat and high-calorie foods helps control calorie intake and maintain a healthy weight.

Eating too many high-calorie foods – particularly processed foods that are high in fat, starches or sugar – can cause us to be overweight or obese.

Eating a ‘Western type’ diet (a diet that contains high amounts of sugars, meat and fat) also increases the risk of becoming overweight or obese, which in turn is a cause of many common cancers.

> To find out which cancers, visit our Risk Factors page

What are high-calorie foods?

High-calorie foods (also known as calorie-dense or energy-dense foods) include things like:

  • chocolate and sweets
  • crisps
  • biscuits
  • cake
  • ice cream
  • fast food, like burgers, fried chicken or fries
  • pastries

Even small portions of these foods contain lots of calories and they are often low in the vital nutrients your body needs.

Tips for cutting down on high-calorie foods and drinks

Reshaping your plate to include more wholegrains, vegetables, fruit and pulses will keep you feeling fuller for longer on fewer calories, which can help you to maintain a healthy weight, reducing your cancer risk.

These three simple tips will help you change your behaviours.

1. Watch out for processed foods

In general, the healthiest foods are those that have had minimal processing. This tends to mean that most of their original nutritional value – such as key vitamins and minerals – is still likely to be intact. Try to base your meals on foods such as vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, and pulses.

> Take a look at our tips to eat more wholegrains, vegetables, fruit and beans

2. Read food labels

As a guide, high-calorie foods contain more than about 225 calories (kcal) per 100g. These foods should be eaten sparingly. Some high-calorie foods are valuable sources of nutrients so can be eaten in small amounts. These include oily fish, nuts, seeds, cheese and avocados.

> Read our guide to food labelling

3. Trim off the fat

When eating meat, trim off the fat or better still, opt for skinless poultry (chicken or turkey) or white fish.