As the days grow shorter, many people begin to try to focus on their diets and not let their weight creep up during the winter.
Luckily, you don’t have to overhaul your diet or restock your entire pantry to stay healthy. Just use the following food swaps to simplify the process and stay slim all spooky season and beyond.
1. Poultry and Fish
You might want to skip the red meat and sink your teeth into some chicken wings or grilled fish instead.
Poultry and fish are lean proteins, which means they pack an even more nutritious punch without the excess calories. Plus, they’re just as versatile as pork or ground beef. Make burgers, tacos, shish kabobs, fajitas and more and start new, healthier fall food traditions.
2. 12-Grain Thins
While you’re at it, go ahead and swap those hamburger buns out for 12-grain thins. At just 100 calories a serving, these little sandwich rolls are packed with fiber to help you stay full longer. Plus, they tend to have fewer carbohydrates and sugars than your typical bun.
The best part is you can use 12-grain thins in place of bagels, toast and even pizza dough if you’re feeling adventurous. Turn family pizza night on its head and make personal pans. Let everyone add their own toppings and experiment with different sauces to discover the best flavor combinations.
3. Dried Fruits and Vegetables
Potato chips may be delicious, but you know what they say. You can never have just one. Before you know it, the whole bag will be gone and you’ll have consumed way too many calories, not to mention a copious amount of fat, sodium and carbohydrates. If only you had some fruit or veggie chips on hand.
Luckily, these healthy alternatives are easy to make. All you need to do is slice your produce, place them on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven for a few hours or until they’re dry and crisp. Sure, dried kale and apple slices might not look as appetizing as a bag of Lay’s but you have to at least give them a chance. You never know. They might just become your family’s new favorite snack.
4. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is creamy, tangy and full of nutrients, including calcium, potassium and vitamin B-12. It’s also high in protein. In fact, an average serving can contain a whopping 12 to 17.3 grams. Probiotics will keep your gut happy and healthy, too, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t switch out regular old yogurt for the Greek variety.
When you’re ready to take this food swap to the next level, try using Greek yogurt in baked goods like bundt cakes, biscuits and sweet loaves. Its thick consistency and chalky texture make it a great substitute for sour cream, cream cheese, buttermilk and cottage cheese. Got a craving for ice cream? You can even freeze Greek yogurt into popsicles or make a parfait with honey, berries and granola. Bye-bye, calorie-dense desserts!
5. Sweet Potatoes
While regular potatoes can be part of a balanced diet, sweet potatoes offer more health benefits. That’s because sweet potatoes contain more antioxidants, including vitamins A and C. These bright orange tubers also have a lower glycemic index, which means they’re less likely to cause your blood sugar to spike.
Try swapping fries for sweet potato wedges and loaded baked potatoes for a sweet cinnamon sugar potato. You can even swap out plain old toast in favor of a thin slice of sweet potato.
Instead of french fries, loaded pots, mashed pots, even toast. This substitution is a favorite among gluten-free foodies and calorie counters alike.
It’s hard to imagine starting your day without coffee. However, swapping your morning cup of joe for a mug of tea might be the smartest food swap of all. While coffee in moderation can benefit your health, some people find that its acidity causes indigestion. Others add so much milk and sugar that they cancel out the health benefits. In these instances, brewing a pot of tea may be a healthier alternative.
Enjoy higher energy levels and an influx of antioxidants all week long by making a large batch to keep in the fridge. You can even try mixing different flavored teas with lemonade or homemade syrups to make healthy mocktails. This swap is especially beneficial as you’ll effectively cut your coffee, juice, soda and alcohol intake. Subsequently, you’ll consume less sugar and fewer calories while also staying hydrated.
One Step at a Time
Adopting a holistic approach to food is the best way to maintain a healthy diet. However, change won’t happen overnight. Instead, you should focus on making one or two swaps until the behavior becomes a habit. Eventually, you’ll develop a routine to which you can add more healthy choices. Thus, these six simple swaps will take the effort out of nutritious eating.