Dieting can involve a lot of no’s: no carbs, no sugar, no dessert, no fats. While these rules are designed to help you lose weight, sometimes they can feel like they’re working against you. Depriving yourself of food when you’re hungry leads to an energy crash and ultimately makes you overeat, while skipping out on your favorite foods can make you crave them even more. It’s tough to stick with a diet that makes you feel like you’re losing or constantly punishing yourself, instead of winning on your way to a healthier lifestyle.
The solution to constraining diet programs may be the Swap Diet. Instead of halving meals or foregoing snacks, you swap out not-so-good foods for ones that are better for you. Nearly every food has a healthier swap that still delivers a similar taste and satisfaction level. By making smart swaps, you cut down on calories while adding nutrients, helping you to reach your weight-loss goals. You’ll feel like you’re still enjoying yourself, and not depriving your taste buds of great-tasting foods.
Making healthy swaps also is less imposing a task for dieters than completely eliminating certain meals or food groups. By making small changes, you develop healthier habits and can stay with your diet longer. And the swaps add up.
“Small ways to fill in those nutritional gaps can make a huge difference over weeks and months,” said Cynthia Sass, author of Slim Down Now, in an interview with CNN.
Get closer to your weight loss goals by making these healthy food swaps:
Heart-healthy avocado is a great alternative to mayo on sandwiches.
Avocado instead of mayo
Mayonnaise might seem innocuous enough, but it has a whopping 57 calories and nearly 5 grams of fat in just one tablespoon. Avocado can be used as a rich, creamy spread for sandwiches that’s full of heart-healthy fats, Vitamin E and Vitamin C, making it a smarter choice for lunchtime.
Greek yogurt with fruit instead of flavored yogurt
Don't be fooled by the colorful, fruit-covered labels - flavored yogurt is 79 percent carbohydrates, with the majority of them coming from added sugars. One cup of flavored yogurt can contain 47 grams of sugar! Instead of loading up on sugars, swap in Greek yogurt. It typically contains only 5-6 grams of sugar per serving, and also delivers lots of protein and probiotics, which are good for digestive health. Top Greek yogurt with fresh strawberries or blueberries for added flavor and an antioxidant boost.
Popcorn instead of potato chips
It's hard to ignore a craving for something crunchy and salty, but dig into a bag of chips and you're bound to end up full of regret. Swap out chips for popcorn next time a craving strikes. Popcorn is a whole-grain and is incredibly low in calories - 3 cups of air-popped popcorn will only set you back around 90 calories. If you need a quick snack and want something satisfying, popcorn is the perfect option. Butter-drenched movie theater popcorn doesn't count, though - sorry!
Zucchini noodles instead of spaghetti
Thinly sliced zucchini is a clever alternative to spaghetti. Instead of the carb heavy noodles, the zucchini delivers fiber and a variety of vitamins. CNN recommended adding turkey meatballs to the dish instead of beef ones to add protein without extra fat, and adding oats to the meatballs to decrease the amount of meat.
Shrimp cocktail instead of chicken wings
If you're out to eat and want to enjoy a fun appetizer or are looking to make your game day party fare healthier, opt for shrimp cocktail instead of wings, suggested Women's Day magazine. The shrimp has tons of omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy fats that combat inflammation, and you skip out on the grease, sodium and fat of the wing skin.