Wellness | 5 Substitutions to Effortlessly Save Calories
By: Christina Rico, Health Coach & Personal Trainer
We all know that complete diet makeovers usually don't last because they can be overwhelming. Quitting anything cold turkey is a recipe for disaster. It is easier to stay committed to a new eating program by implementing small changes. Focusing on the smaller changes makes healthy eating more manageable and sustainable over the long term. Instead of doing a complete 180 on your current eating habits, try some of these simple food substitutions that will save you hundreds of calories without sacrificing taste and satisfaction. By swapping out the items below, you will effortlessly become healthier and feel more energized!
Do Not Eat: Pasta
White pasta is full of simple carbohydrates that are not beneficial if your goal is to look fit and slim. One cup of macaroni pasta packs over 220 calories and 43 grams of carbohydrates—that is before you add all of the fattening cheese sauce!
Try This Instead: Spaghetti Squash
If you are a pasta lover, and you crave a big bowl of noodles, try spaghetti squash noodles instead. One cup of spaghetti squash noodles contains only 31 calories and 7 grams of carbohydrates.
To easily prepare a spaghetti squash within minutes, cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Next, place the squash in a microwave-safe baking dish and cook for 10-12 minutes. Once it has cooled, scrape out the long, noodle-like strands of squash, and enjoy it as a noodle replacement in any of your favorite pasta recipes.
Do Not Eat: Fried Food
Deep fried food is loaded with trans fats and calories, while offering zero nutritional benefits. Popular fried items such as chicken, fish, and potatoes are otherwise healthy foods, until they are dipped in batter and tossed in grease. For example, a deliciously grilled chicken breast has 140 calories and 3 grams of fat. Once dipped in batter and fried in oil, the same chicken breast has 340 calories and 23 grams of fat. Just say no to deep fried foods, and you will avoid the possible consequences such as acid reflux, indigestion and greasy fingers.
Try This Instead: Grilled/Baked Food
It may sound un-American to skip the fried food and opt for baked or broiled items, but these healthier options can also taste delicious. If you love potato chips, try making your own at home using sweet potatoes.
Use a mandolin or sharp knife to thinly slice a sweet potato. Lay out the circular slices on a cookie sheet that has been lightly coated with non-stick cooking oil. Then, spray the sweet potato slivers with cooking oil spray and season with your favorite spices. Place the sheet into your oven on broil, and allow the slices to crisp up. Check your “chips” every few minutes until they are crispy on the outside.
Do Not Eat: Creamy Salad Dressing
The health benefits of a luscious green salad are ruined when it is drenched in fattening creamy dressing. Popular store bought salad dressings contain preservatives and trans fats, and they pack upwards of 20 grams of fat per serving.
Try This Instead: Vinaigrette
Salad dressings are meant to compliment the fresh greens and vegetables in a salad, not drown it in fat and calories. Instead of a heavy salad dressing, mix your own vinegar-based dressing to top your salad with. Ingredients such as vinegar, fresh lemon juice, olive oil and dried herbs meld together to create a light and refreshing dressing for any salad.
Do Not Drink: Whole Milk
For individuals with weight loss goals, lactose allergies, or high cholesterol, cow's milk does not reign supreme. Although dairy milk seems to be a nutrient powerhouse with 8 grams of high quality protein, it also packs 35 milligrams of cholesterol and a whopping 13 grams of sugar—more than a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup!
Try This Instead: Unsweetened Almond or Coconut Milk
Unlike cow's milk, dairy alternatives like unsweetened almond or coconut milk are safe for individuals with lactose intolerance or high cholesterol. Almond milk is low in calories and high in minerals like magnesium, potassium and vitamin E. Coconut milk has a creamy texture that is similar to dairy milk, and it is a great source of calcium and vitamin D.
Do Not Drink: High Calorie Beverages
Sounds like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many people unintentionally drink a majority of their daily recommended calories. Bottled juices, sports drinks and soda are often sugar-laden and pack hundreds of hidden calories.
Try This Instead: Crystal Clear Water
Replace high calorie beverages with good ol' H2O, and you will be reaping numerous benefits—improved digestion, increased energy, smoother skin, and it may even induce fat loss!
Christina Rico is a Health Coach and Personal Trainer who is a new Contributing Writer for IEShineOn.com. We're excited to welcome Christina to our team, and she will be dedicated to bringing our readers workout tips, healthy recipes, exercise routines and everything else you need to live a healthy and happy lifetsyle. To find out more about Christina, visit her website!