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25 healthy food swaps to help you lose weight without going hungry
It can be difficult going on a diet with a weight-loss goal. You want to get healthier and fitter, but you also don’t want to starve. Thankfully, there are quite a few food swaps you can make to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients and flavor you desire, without adding too many calories to your waistline. Here are 25 healthy food swaps that, on top of a good exercise regimen, will have you down some pounds in a flash.
Ditch the calorie-laden mayonnaise and ketchup and reach for the mustard and pickles. Whether you’re having a burger sans bun, French fries or a hot dog, the condiments you put on your food can add up, big time, and all very sneakily. Opt for mustard and pickles only, for a healthy choice.
We all think of granola as a healthy breakfast, right? Unfortunately it could be hiding a lot of extra calories and sugar, depending on the brand you buy (and who has time to make it from scratch at home?). If you’re looking for a quick breakfast, go for oatmeal over granola.
3. Breakfast breads
You don’t have to give up all breads to be healthy. If you love your daily bagel, but want to lose weight, kick the bagel to the curb and order an English muffin instead.
Like granola, yogurt is also generally considered a pretty healthy food and a diet staple, but if you’re buying the wrong kind, you’re just eating sugar and calories, with some fun fruit flavors. Look for Greek yogurt and then top it with some fresh fruit at home.
We all love a good omelet and eggs are definitely a diet food that you should keep handy — they’re so quick and easy to make! But, what you mix in with your eggs matters. Skip the cheese and bacon, and stick with spices and veggies like chives, pepper, salt, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms or jalapenos.
6. Carbonated beverages
Soda can become so addicting and even diet sodas come with a few unhealthy additives. If you’re craving those carbonated bubbles, look for a glass of seltzer instead.
Speaking of beverages, coffee is another place where tons of calories can hide. Instead of going to Starbucks and ordering a venti cappuccino with whipped cream, or another equally sugar-y drink, try drinking your coffee black. If you can’t bear the taste, make a smaller transition and go for a flat white with almond or fat-free milk.
Instead of fruit juice, why not have an actual piece of fruit? Fruit juices usually have lots of added sugar and a lot fewer health benefits than the fruit from which the juices were derived. So, next time you’re tempted by a big glass of orange juice, opt for the actual orange instead.
We all love some good cheese and crackers, and by themselves they’re not a bad snack, but you can do better. Skip that cracker and slide a slice of apple underneath that cheese.
Popcorn can be super healthy or super unhealthy. It all depends on the choices you make. Forgo the microwave, super-buttery popcorn and either air pop your own kernels, or just look for pre-popped, low-calorie popcorn at your grocery store.
There are tons of ways to make your taco night healthier. Swap your flour tortilla for a corn tortilla, your beef crumbles for chicken and your cheese for sautéed veggies.
Sometimes you just need a treat, okay? Just make sure your treat isn’t too terrible for you. Opt for dark chocolate over milk chocolate, for half the sugar content.
This swap isn't so much about removing calories as it is about adding nutrients. If you’re having a salad, great job — now make it a little better by swapping the iceberg lettuce (which, while low in calories, has basically no nutrient value) for spinach, which is filled with vitamins and minerals.
Carbs are okay in certain situations, but if your overall goal is to lose weight, they’re best avoided. The next time you have a hankering for pasta, look for “zoodles” at the grocery store — spiraled zucchini noodles that can be boiled and then topped with your favorite pasta sauce.
15. Sweet toppings
Especially at breakfast, it’s common practice to top your toast, pancakes, biscuit or whatever with a slathering or a sprinkle of something sweet. Go for the healthy options in these instances; choose fresh fruit over jam and jelly, agave syrup over maple syrup and cinnamon over brown sugar.
Instead of sporting two pieces of bread on your sandwich, go open face, for half the calories, or better yet, replace the bread altogether with lettuce or a tortilla wrap.
Salad dressings run the gamut as far as calories and nutrients are concerned. Your best bet? Always avoid the creamy dressings and go for the oil and vinegar-based options.
If you like a splash of milk in your coffee everyday, or in your cereal, or anywhere else, consider swapping out the old-fashioned milk for almond, soy or cashew milk.
19. Cooking fats
In general, you’re going to need some sort of fat in the kitchen if you plan on doing much cooking. But don’t settle for butter or margarine, just because a recipe calls for it. Substitute these fattier ingredients with olive oil or a simple non-stick spray.
20. Side dishes
It can be a bit disheartening when you’re out for dinner with friends and they’re all ordering a round of fries while you order a sad side salad. Don’t feel like you have to stick to the side salad just because you’re on a diet, though. Even another side can be a better choice than fries — like potato salad, the restaurant’s vegetable of the day or a soup.
Speaking of potatoes and other starches, there’s one magical ingredient that can replace both potatoes and rice with ease — cauliflower. Mashed or riced, cauliflower can be a tasty stand-in at your dinner table. (And if you don’t tell anyone about the swap, they might not even notice!)
Ice cream lovers rejoice! There are now tons of reduced-calorie and even dairy-free ice cream options on the market, many of which taste just like the real, full-fat thing. Skip the Ben n’ Jerry’s and try one of these new options.
You don’t have to give up pizza to lose weight, you just have to make a few adjustments. Instead of thick, stuffed crust, try thin crust or crust made from potatoes or cauliflower. Instead of white sauce, go red. Instead of multiple cheeses and lots of processed meat, look for veggie-based toppings.
Chips and dip, veggies and dip, whatever you dip — make sure it’s healthful. Rather than a sour cream-based dip or other creamy options, try hummus or salsa.
Lastly, while meat is a great part of many diets, if it’s truly calories you’re looking to eliminate, removing meat from your diet and replacing it with veggies is a way to go. Rather than a soup filled with meat protein, go with beans and other veggies. Choose a black bean burger over a red meat burger. Instead of a salad topped with steak strips, opt for more veggies.
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