It's three weeks into 2010. We're keeping up with our New Years Resolutions by eating right and exercising more. But what happens in February, when the newness of the year has worn off? If we make simple, easy changes to out eating habits now, they'll stick the rest of the year. Here are some easy food swaps to make your change easier and healthier!
Chips and Dip It's a classic munchie for parties, after school snacks and just about any other time we feel hungry for something quick. The problem is most chips and dips are loaded with saturated fat, partially hydrogenated oils and more sodium than is good for you. Try This! Try either carrot and celery sticks and dressing or pita bread and hummus. Both are easy, quick, provide more fiber and vitamins than Ridges and ranch. It satisfies the craving for crunchy and savory!
Soda Soda is one of those items we tend to forget about when renovating our eating patterns. It's become so engrained into our culture we forget that it's less than kind on our waistlines. Try This! I discovered when I crave a soda, I'm really craving something fizzy. Flavored seltzer waters deliver fruity taste and fizz without all the sugar. Or try plain seltzer with a squeeze of lemon and lime juice!
White Bread, Rice, Pasta... I don't care if Wonder Bread was a staple in the 1950's. We know now that white bread is about as nutritious as a paper bag. White rice and pastas aren't as bad for you as white bread, but because the rice has been polished, it's lost some of its nutritional value. Try This! Make an easy, delicious swap to whole grain breads, pastas and brown rice. Whole grains and brown rice have a lovely nutty flavor to them, more fiber and more vitamins. It's a win-win situation.
Milk Chocolate I adore chocolate. I love it in ice cream, with nuts, drizzled on a cookie...you name it. What I don't love is the amount of fat and sugar in milk chocolate. Try This! Next time you find yourself craving a Hershey's bar, try a piece of high quality dark chocolate instead. Dark chocolate has a higher cocoa content, which means a richer flavor and less room for milk and sugar. And high quality chocolatiers, like Godiva and Wockenfuss, have fewer ingredients in their chocolate, so you can sidestep unneccesary preservatives and chemicals. Seriously, who wants Blue 40 in their truffle?
French Fries Fries can be a delicious finger food, but they're also full of bad fats and oils. No thanks. Try This! Instead, order a baked potato to go with your burger. Potatoes, when baked and served in the skin without mounds of sour cream and cheese, are very good for you! If you still want fries, make sweet potato fries by slicing raw sweet potatoes, drizzling them with 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and bake in the oven.
Pasta Salad It seems we can't get away from it. Picnics, office parties, almost every occasion calls for pasta salad. They're usually dressed in oil or mayo, and can be greasy and mushy. Try This! Find a good recipe for rice salad. Rice salads are creamy because of the naturally occuring starch in the rice. Add veggies and lean protein and you've got a balanced meal.
Ice Cream Delicious? Yes. Good for you? Not so much. Ice cream is made with full fat cream or milk and while it isn't bad for you once in a while, it can pack on the pounds if we're not careful. Try This! There are tons of alternatives to ice cream with less sugar and bad fats: natural fruit sorbets, granitas, frozen yogurt and gelatos are all improvements. If you're thinking, "Isn't gelato Italian ice cream?", know that while the answer is yes, it's also made with milk instead of cream, and has less air. Denser gelato means needing less to satisify your craving.
Beef Don't get me wrong. Beef is full of iron, B vitamins and other nutrients essential to the body. That doesn't mean you should be sitting down to a steak every night. Your arteries will not be pleased. Try This! When you want hearty, filling red meat (and let's face it, chicken just doesn't cut it), try fish. Tuna and salmon are lean, chock full of omega 3 fatty acids and have lower cholesterol and fat than most cuts of beef. But do yourself a favor and grill, bake or pan sear the fish. No sense in eating healthy if you're going to fry it in all that oil!
Remember folks, eating healthy is all about variety, moderation and pleasure. Try substituting even just one of these ideas a week and see what it does for your system and your lifestyle.