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You’ve probably read the phrase “smart substitutes” in some of my previous posts. If you’re trying to lead a healthier lifestyle or lose some weight (or both), then these two simple words can change everything for you. Take them to heart and know that by choosing a few “smart substitutes” on a consistent basis, you make some pretty big changes without feeling much sacrifice.
Making smarter choices by going with substitutes for foods higher in fat or calories requires a little detective work, but you can handle it. You’ve got to read labels. Yes, I know you’re often in a hurry at the grocery, but simply grabbing what’s handy, on sale, or new is not a component of a healthy lifestyle.
Think of the grocery as a peaceful time to focus on your goals. Give yourself some extra time to read labels, make carefully considered choices, and to picture yourself healthier and happier. Exercising control over your food purchases means a far riskier situation at home, health-wise. With smart shopping choices being made in the store, healthier nutrition becomes much easier at home, whether you’re grabbing a snack or cooking a meal from scratch. Simple modifications to your menu – using smart choices – can literally save hundreds of calories and tons of fat.
The biggest label no-no is sugar. If sugar (or a form of sugar) is one of the first three ingredients listed on a package, that likely means that particular food or drink is very high in sugar. Choose a substitute.
Give yourself a double boost by eating wisely at breakfast to kick-start your day. Replace pork bacon or sausage with turkey or soy. The difference in calories is shocking, and the taste is still there.
Replace a donut or Danish with an English muffin spread with natural peanut butter and fruit spread. I promise you, you’ll be satisfied. Opt for whole wheat toast or bagels, and trans-free canola margarine instead of butter. Omega-3-enriched eggs, egg whites or egg substitutes are also smart substitutes. Replace cornflakes and milk with bran flakes and skim millk.
Light mayo is crucial to weight maintenance; keep it in the fridge. Turn your breaded chicken or fish patties into the grilled variety, and try some of today’s amazing veggie burgers. Don’t tell the family up front they’re about to experience a change; there’s every chance the new flavors will appeal.
Side dishes can add loads of unnecessary fat and calories. Substitute brown rice, steamed veggies, tossed salad with vinaigrette, fruit salad or carrot sticks for fries, potato salad, or white rice. Have you noticed how many white foods I’m recommending a substitute for?
Your new favorite words are broiled, boiled, steamed, sautéed, grilled, and raw. Think of them as six wonderful, tasty, life-enhancing alternatives to one artery-clogging, fat-producing word: “fried.”
After all, isn’t that the point? You want to enhance your life, to feel good and have longevity to enjoy all the great things that might come your way. Start at 20, 40, or 60 … but just start. You only get one go-around!
Coleslaw Tossed salad w/ vinaigrette dressing
French fries Fruit salad or carrot sticks
French fries Oven fries or baked potato
Potato salad with mayo Potato salad with light mayo
Fried vegetables Steamed vegetables
White rice Brown rice or wild rice
Couscous Whole wheat couscous or quinoa
Breaded fried chicken breast Skinless roasted chicken breast
Breaded fried fish Broiled fish filet
Breaded fried shrimp Boiled or sautéed shrimp
Beef ribs or prime rib Beef sirloin or round steak
Pork chops Turkey breast
Meat pizza with extra cheese Veggie pizza with less cheese
Pasta with cream sauce Pasta with marinara sauce
Regular ground beef Extra lean ground beef
Regular ground beef Ground turkey breast
Regular ground beef Veggie burger crumbles
Creamy salad dressing Vinaigrette salad dressing
Creamy salad dressing Olive oil and vinegar
Cream sauce Lowfat cream of mushroom soup
SpreadsRegular mayonnaise Light or nonfat mayonnaise
Regular cream cheese Light or nonfat cream cheese
Regular peanut butter Natural peanut butter
Jelly or jam Fruit spread or apple butter
Whole ricotta cheese Nonfat ricotta cheese
Heavy cream Evaporated skim milk
Whole milk Low fat or nonfat milk
Whole yogurt Low fat or nonfat yogurt
Whole cottage cheese Low fat or nonfat cottage cheese
Regular cheese Reduced fat or soy cheese
Regular sour cream Light or nonfat sour cream or plain yogurt (for extra calcium)
SnacksRoasted peanuts Homemade mix: walnuts, almonds, raisins, cranberries, peanuts
Regular butter popcorn or “kettle corn” Light microwave popcorn
Regular potato chips Light or baked potato chips
Regular corn chips Light or baked tortilla chips
Butter flavor crackers Whole wheat crackers
Nacho cheese dip Black bean dip or salsa
DessertsRegular ice cream Low fat or nonfat frozen yogurt
Ice cream bar Frozen fruit bar
Milk chocolate candy bar Dark chocolate candy bar
Cheesecake Graham crackers topped with light cream cheese and strawberry spread
Fruit pie in pastry shell Fresh fruit crisp
Strawberries with custard Strawberries with nonfat pudding
Candy bar Granola bar