If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know I don’t believe in eliminating any food group from my diet. Deprivation has never worked for me long term. Portion control and balance have always seemed like a smarter and healthier long term solution to keeping the pounds off. But this just isn’t as easy as people, organizations, articles and “experts” would make it sound. So much of maintaining a healthy weight is mental: how you are “feeling”, what kind of mood you are in, what’s going on in your life, etc. all effect how much and what I eat. Most people are emotional eaters and how they react to stress, happiness, sadness, loss, a victory, etc. often revolves around food. It is easy to be on a “diet” for a month or even longer. It is much harder to make it a way of life. We all have triggers that can set off random eating and invoke poor eating habits. Mine are well defined and unfortunately, well documented on the scale. Stress and exhaustion are my triggers. But all emotions can apply to me at anytime and to almost everyone I know.
I try every day to add more balance to my life and it is just not easy…life is a seesaw and those ups and downs can get really steep at times causing me to just overeat.
One of the easiest ways I’ve found to keep things in check is through substitutions…food substitutions to be precise. I’ve had people say “No way is spaghetti squash the same as pasta” and then not even try it. (I’m talking about myself, by the way. LOL) It would be years before I finally took the advice and tried spaghetti squash as a pasta substitute and guess what, I loved it. I had an “aah haa” moment when I realized that what I loved was the sauce and meat on top of the pasta… and spaghetti squash was a perfectly good substitution for it. Not always, but often enough to make a difference.
I’m not talking about substituting an apple for a piece of chocolate cake (I know, I’ve read those articles too. Are they kidding? If I want cake, the apple isn’t going to cut it.). I’m talking about taste good substitutions for the things we make everyday…ways of cutting a little something here and a little something there. All of a sudden, it adds up to a whole lot of something. I’ve tried plenty of substitutions that just didn’t work for me. (Frozen cauliflower does NOT taste like rice. But guess what, I kept trying and found that fresh cauliflower does the trick and has now become my favorite stand in for rice.) There are plenty of suggestions out there that may work for you but because this is MY list, I’m only giving you things that have worked for me and substitutions I now use all the time. I’ve even been specific about brands and types so you know what does the trick for my taste buds. These items have become so much a part of my diet that I don’t think about it anymore. These are the items that are on my weekly grocery list and the things I use in 75% of my cooking. You’ll see them throughout the entire site on a regular basis.
Let’s make sure I clarify a few things. Just because I substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream doesn’t mean I never have sour cream…I do and I enjoy it. But what has happened is that I don’t miss it or crave it. I have found the perfect substitution and that sub is packed with protein and is actually in a food category rather than a condiment category. That’s a big difference in what I’m eating everyday. That one small change can really add up and keep the pounds from creeping on.
With the New Year already started, we are all looking for ways to get just a little healthier. We are drinking our water, exercising and getting more sleep. We are focusing on healthier behaviors and substituting better food for some of your food choices everyday is a way to improve your eating habits.
So, below I have given you my 23 favorite food swaps that can save calories or fat or sugar intake, curb carb intake or just make you feel better. Try some or all of them. Some may become your normal substitution when you see the original ingredient in a recipe…who knows. This is not a diet or the perfect solution to losing or maintaining weight. BUT it is a great way to eat a little better every day and make some better choices in places you may not have thought of yet.
I will be adding to this list in future posts but this should get you started. If you have any great substitutions or food swaps, let me know. I’d love to share with my readers.
Receive 25 FREE Healthier Recipes using swaps sent right to your mail box by clicking on the link. I’ll send recipes, menu plans, food finds and more right to your mailbox each week. Here’s to a healthier 2022!