Diet and Recipe Articles  Your Favorite Foods: Healthy Substitutes!

Diet and Recipe Articles
Healthy Substitutes!

By Kerry McLeod, eDiets Editor-in-Chief

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The Last Diet Book Standing! It's that time of year again where we begin to make our laundry list of New Year's resolutions. You know the drill -- lose 10 pounds by February, start a liquid diet, avoid all foods in the Ho Ho and Ding Dong family, quit drinking, join a gym (and actually go) -- and the list goes on and on. And, if you're like most people, you'll begin to lapse from your resolutions by mid-January. Why? Because most resolutions are unrealistic, too inflexible, and frankly, they're no fun!

Good news for all you "first of the year" dieters -- we've found a way to make healthy resolutions stick -- simply make better choices! Here's the deal: You'll find that many of the meals you're eating can be made healthier and with fewer calories by simple substitution and controlling portion sizes. The payoff, guaranteed, is losing unwanted pounds and maintaining a healthy weight! You may even increase your life expectancy, prolong the aging process, and help prevent many life-threatening diseases.

Now, if you happen to be reading this article with a soda in one hand and candy bar in the other (probably super-sized because you got a better deal), maybe you're not quite ready to make changes at this time, and that's okay. But when you are, here are some simple tips to make your transition from unhealthy to healthy less traumatic. Read on...

It's the new mind / body split: Physically, you're at home (and apparently available for changing Barbie's ball gown or holding the wrench for Mr. Fix-It). Mentally, you're at the office, but your boss can't see that.

Healthy Substitutes for Common Foods

We've taken some of the most common foods and found healthier substitutes for you to choose from. We even provided some of our favorite brands to make shopping a breeze! You'll quickly see that you don't have to give up taste to eat healthy.

Let's start with carbs. These days they seem to have a "bad rap" for making us fat, which couldn't be further from the truth. It's the type of carbs you choose that makes a difference: For instance, whole grains trump refined grains every time. Plus, it's how much you eat of a certain food that matters when it comes to weight gain.

Carb Tips:

Substitute: White bread, white rice, white pasta and sugary cereals.

Healthier choices: 100 percent whole grain breads, whole grain rice, whole wheat tortillas, whole wheat pastas and high fiber cereals.

Favorite brands: Pepperidge Farm Natural Whole Grain, Success 10-Minute Brown Rice, Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Pasta, and General Mills Fiber One.

Next, it's important to note that not all dietary proteins are created equally. The emphasis should be on the fish and the plant-based proteins because there is considerable evidence that these foods can reduce the risk of developing heart disease. (If you're interested in getting more information on how to keep your heart healthy, subscribe to eDiets new Healthy Hearts newsletter by clicking here.) Red meat is fine in moderation, but stick to the leanest selections you can find.

Protein Tips:

Substitute: Full-fat meats like bacon, sausage, prime rib, hot dogs, cured luncheon meats and poultry.

Healthier choices: Lean beef (round, loin, sirloin, filet) lean pork (tenderloin and center loin) skinless poultry, fish, eggs, raw nuts and seeds, all natural peanut butter, legumes and soy products.

Favorite brands: Hormel Pork Tenderloin, Boar's Head Oven Roasted Sliced Turkey, Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter, Morningstar Farms Veggie Burgers, and Light Smart Soy Dogs.

Much like the meat group, it is important to know that when choosing dairy products, the whole fat choices are full of saturated fats, which can outweigh many of the benefits you might receive.

Dairy Tips:

Substitute: Whole fat milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, cheese and ice cream.

Healthier choices: Skim or low-fat milk, reduced fat cheeses, cottage cheese, yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream, frozen yogurt, enriched light soymilk and soy cheese.

Favorite brands: Silk Soy Milk, Dannon Lowfat Yogurt, and Jarlsberg Lite Swiss Cheese.

Be sure to check out The Last Diet Book Standing for a complete meal plan made up of the most popular meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner that have been made healthier by simple substitution. Our makeover meals trade empty calories for calories packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants. You'll quickly see that you can still enjoy your favorite meals while becoming healthier and slimmer!

But wait, that's not all!

Eating healthier foods is only part of the equation, it's also important to understand that portion control is vital to weight management. Even if you eat only healthy foods, if the portions are too large, you'll probably still gain weight.

The best way to eyeball a standard serving size by food group is to use your trusty hand -- more handy than carrying around a food scale! Standard serving sizes for pasta, rice and dry cereal is a handful cupped. A meat serving is the size of your palm, a dairy serving (milk and yogurt) is the size of your fist and a cheese serving is the size of the thumb.

By now, you've probably come to accept the fact that there really is no "free lunch" when it comes to being healthier -- no magic bullet, as they say. It boils down to better food choices and portion control. If you want to see a positive change in your health and your body -- you need to take action! Start making better choices today. Who knows, you may even start the New Year off a few pounds lighter. There's some food for thought.

In The Last Diet Book Standing, Kerry provides a laugh-out-loud, action packed crash course in the essentials of street-smart nutrition, along with easy step-by-step instructions on how to customize a healthy eating plan for any lifestyle.

“ eDiets knows that trying to lose weight this time of year can be tough. If you need some support with your dieting challenges, we have over 80 different support groups and 21 fantastic diet programs to customize. Let us help you reach your goals! Get your free profile!

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