Cut It Out- Healthier Swaps

You can cut calories, fat and salt without having to sacrifice flavor. When preparing foods at home or eating out, it is possible to make healthy swaps to turn indulgences into sensible dishes. If you decide to incorporate some of these tips, your next meal can be a more well-balanced choice!

For breakfast, replace;

1. Steel Cut Oatmeal for Instant Oatmeal – Steel cut oats are diced whole grains that maintain their fiber-rich shell. They are rich in B-vitamins, calcium and protein. Steel-cut oats also don’t have all the added sugar that is in many instant oatmeals.

2. Fresh Fruit for Fruit Juices – Juices are stripped of fruit’s fiber content and nutrients. Just 8 oz of orange juice has around 110 calories, which is equivalent to almost two oranges. You also won’t feel as full, because the juice itself doesn’t contain any fiber.

3. Wheat Toast for White Toast – Whole-wheat toast contains more vitamins and fiber to keep you full longer. White breads are full of refined grains voiding them of beneficial nutrients. Top your toast with avocado, eggs and natural nut butters instead of sugary jam spreads, butter or chocolate spreads.

For Lunch/Dinner meals, replace;

1. Quinoa for Rice – Quinoa has more fiber and protein compared to brown or white rice. It can be eaten alone or even added to salads to help you feel more satisfied. Cook up a big batch at the beginning of your week to be prepared!

2. Whole Wheat Pasta for Regular Pasta– Whole wheat has more fiber and contains all three parts of the grain for a more nutrient-rich food.   

3. Lettuce Leaves for Tortilla Wrap – Although not exactly the perfect swap, using fresh lettuce is a fun and easy swap that can lighten up any wrap or taco dish. Also, it’s definitely refreshing on a hot day!

4. Fresh grilled/roasted meats for deli meat – Protein helps keep you full and satisfied as well as helps control sugar cravings. However, deli meats are packed with preservatives, additives and excessive sodium. Swap your deli meat sandwiches for grilled/roasted lean meat or chicken breast sandwiches.

5. Sauces for Spices – Instead of using heavy, rich sauces for flavor, use spices such as garlic powder, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper to season your meats along with some fresh olive oil and a fresh squeeze of lemon juice.

For Snacks, replace;

1. Popcorn for Potato Chips – Potato chips are full of sodium and saturated fats. If you crave something crunchy, swap those potato chips for some air popped popcorn with a bit of salt. It will contain much less oil and fat.

2. Plain Greek Yogurt with Fruit for Flavored Fruit Yogurt – Yogurt is a great snack because of the protein content and benefits of probiotics. However, it can be hard to find flavored yogurts low in sugar. The best option is to get plain yogurt without added sugar & top with your favorite fresh fruit.

When eating out;

On top of making simple swaps, here are several suggestions you can request at a restaurant. Restaurant meals can contain enough calories for the entire day. The next time you eat out, I recommend some of these choices.    

1. Choose to start with a mixed green salad instead of chips or a heavy soup.

2. Request salad dressings on the side.

3. Ask for salsa instead of sour cream or extra cheese.

4. Ask for light sauce/spreads on burgers or replace with freshly sliced avocados.  

5. Choose baked, roasted, steamed or lightly sautéed items rather than fried foods.    

6. When ordering a rice dish, ask for a substitution of ½ rice ½ salad.

Making these swaps can be difficult at first to adjust to, but it can definitely be done! When you incorporate some of these changes into your eating habits, you will regularly be making healthier choices without even thinking about it! Eat more nutrient dense foods but also allow yourself to enjoy your favorite foods and desserts in moderation.

1 http://greatist.com/health/83-healthy-recipe-substitutions

2 http://healthcare.utah.edu/healthfeed/postings/2014/07/072214_recipe.tweaks.php

3 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/healthy-restaurant-meals_b_4045643