I’m sure most of you have heard, read about, or tried some of the switches we can make in our daily diets to assist us shedding weight. Here’s a Quick Listing of some foods you can sub in and out to lessen your daily caloric intake and add in better nutrition.
When I decided to cut out added sugar back at the beginning of 2015, one of the first things I did was stop putting sugar in my coffee. This one was hard. It took a few weeks for me to even get used to drinking my coffee with just half and half. Since then, I’ve tried subbing in whole milk, 2%, skim, coconut milk, almond milk, or cashew milk in place of the half and half, and it just didn’t work-and black coffee is just awful. So I knocked out the added sugar, but still held on to the cream. I had to stay sane.
I also used to LOVE putting sour cream on foods like baked potatoes, chilis, soups, in pasta, etc. I subbed out the sour cream for unflavored Greek yogurt and honestly, I can’t even tell the difference between the two anymore!
Here is a list of other foods I’ve swapped out in my diet over the past 2 years. Hope some of them give you an idea of things you can do without as well.
- Use applesauce, mashed banana, or dates to sweeten things like oatmeal or baked goods. More and more recipes are available out there that don’t have any added sugars, maple syrup, agave, or honey. The added fiber of applesauce, mashed banana, and dates slow down the absorption of sugar in your body, putting less strain on your liver – think “lower glycemic index” than just straight up sugar.
- Instead of making sandwiches using bread, I’ll swap the 90 calories a slice (2 slices = 180 calories) for a couple Wasa crackers (2 crackers = 80 calories) and create a Lunchable-type meal. You could also cut out the bread entirely. I sometimes take a dill pickle spear and wrap a couple slices of deli chicken breast or turkey around it and dip it in some stone-ground mustard.
- Knock out as much cheese as you can, as they are calorie-bombs, then when needed, use freshly-shredded Parmesan cheese. Adding cheese to your food is one of the quickest ways to add in extra calories. I watched a documentary recently (can’t remember which one it was) that discussed how America’s consumption of cheese increased dramatically after products like Skim/1%/2% milk gained popularity. As a result of these skimmed milks, there was an excess of the skimmed off whey. The dairy folks didn’t want to lose out on a bunch of money, so they pushed cheese on Americans. Remember those “Cheese! Glorious cheese!” commercials when you were little? Yeah, it was a way for the government to convince Americans to buy more cheese products. If I need to add cheese to something, I’ll stick to maybe sprinkling on a tablespoon of the Parm. 1 oz. of cheese is the serving size, but oftentimes we add in way more than that. Excess amounts of cheese ain’t good for us!
- No more sweetened cereals. Sugar is lurking in so many of the foods we eat everyday. Sugar-laden cereals can be a main contributor to why our kids are getting fatter. I used to love cereal (Oh my Lord! Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs cereal was my fave). But let’s face it, sugary cereal is pretty much just candy in a bowl that we eat first thing in the morning! If you’re looking to lose weight, I highly suggest getting rid of sugary cereals from your diet and adding in cereals with whole grains & no sugar or no-sugar added oatmeal as your morning routine. The two cereals my husband and I have been stuck on for the past year or so are Puffed Kamut (it’s an ancient grain with a low glycemic index and costs $2 a bag at Sprouts) and Love Grown Original Power Os (similar to Cheerios, but made with beans and no added sugar). I’ll also make oatmeal for breakfast sometimes. Stay away from Instant Oats as they have a higher glycemic index than Rolled or Steel-Cut Oats. The best oatmeal recipe I’ve found recently involves Rolled Oats, pineapple, mango, shredded unsweetened coconut, a tablespoon of sliced raw macadamia nuts, and a splash of milk.
- Buy a Vegetti and swap out pasta for zucchini or yellow squash noodles! You crank up your veggie consumption and they taste yummy, too!
- Swap out your milk chocolate for super dark chocolate if you need a lil something sweet. I opt for 88% dark chocolate. Sure, it’s bitter, but it still gets the job done and has way less added sugar.
- Swap out white rice for brown rice or quinoa. This one is a no-brainer and brown rice is available as a replacement at most restaurants, too. When my mother-in-law from India came to Denver for our wedding, my husband convinced her to switch to brown rice while she was here visiting. She still ate Indian sweets and such, the only thing that changed was the brown rice instead of white. She lost 8-9 pounds during that time, possibly just from this food swap.
- Opt for nut butters that have no added sugars-just ground nuts. At Whole Foods, you can grind your own. Sprouts has tons of no-added-sugar nut butters. There is a brand called Adam’s that has just nuts in the ingredients that you can buy from regular grocery stores as well.
- SWAP OUT ALL SWEETENED SODAS (diet or otherwise) with unsweetened teas or naturally-flavored club soda/sparkling water. Seriously, sweetened sodas and diet sodas are poison – period. Even diet soda spikes your blood-sugar. I’ve heard and read stories of people just knocking soda out of their diets and losing a bunch of weight. I drink a ton of water everyday, but if I’m craving something with more flavor, I’ll have some unsweetened ice tea or a can of La Croix.
- Opt for whole-grains or whole-wheat foods instead of foods that have “Enriched white/wheat flour”. The word “enriched” in an ingredient list means that the original nutrition has been stripped and then re-added in later. Pretty much anything with “enriched flour” means it has been highly-processed. Know what’s in your food.
- Opt for the full fruit instead of the dried variety. Dried fruits can be deceiving (dried cranberries are often sweetened with sugar). Those raisins in your Raisin Bran can be dusted with added sugar. Also, we tend to consume more of a fruit if it is dried. Take dried apricots for example. I can eat 7 or 8 dried apricots in one sitting easily. But eating 7 or 8 whole, fresh apricots would be a bit trickier and would probably make me a bit sick after. The water content fills us up as well. Think of it as eating soup before a meal. The soup fills you up a bit so you eat less of the potatoes, meat, etc. Eating whole, fresh fruits fill us up faster than eating the dehydrated versions. I’ll still make granola bars with some dried fruit, but it’s more like a tablespoon and not a big handful. Just be on the lookout.
- Try to choose foods that have 5 or less ingredients. If given the choice, opt for foods that have ingredients you can pronounce and aren’t a laundry list of items.
- FIBER FIBER FIBER! Opt for the food with more fiber. This is one nutrient that Americans aren’t getting enough of. More fiber = you feel fuller faster and longer (and it also helps clean you out <wink wink>).
- PROTEIN-FAT-FIBER. I received this advice from a nutrition class I took. The instructor told us to have all 3: protein, fat, and fiber every time we put something in our mouths. These are the building blocks of nutrition. For example: almond butter (protein and fat) and apple slices (fiber). Fiber doesn’t need to be straight-up carbs; it can be veggies as well! Fat doesn’t have to be olive oil; it can be avocado, nuts, milk, etc. And protein doesn’t mean just chicken or tuna; it can be nuts, beans, yogurt, eggs, etc.
Please comment with your swaps, too!