I have struggled with my weight pretty much my whole life. The truth is, I love food. It’s delicious. Who doesn’t like to eat what they love? The problem is, some of the things we love just aren’t that good for us. There are some things we should only eat occasionally or in small amounts which is totally a buzz-kill, right? I think so.
So I have been on a mission to replace all of my favorite addictions with something that is similar in deliciousness but better for me. It’s not always easy to quit something cold turkey, but in my opinion, it’s easier than making a gradual shift. If I am going to make a switch, I want to do it like taking off a band-aid. Quick and painless. Well, mostly painless. There might be a little sting. Here are some of the things that I love (or loved in a past, unhealthier life) that I have replaced with better for me foods.
- Cereal with milk – I used to eat sugary cereal and milk for breakfast or as a snack after dinner. Let me just say that when you eat cereal, you’re likely eating more than one serving in your bowl. Try having some granola or even just oatmeal with dried fruit. You can add almond or coconut milk instead of your regular cow milk. Sweeten it with honey or agave if needed.
- Mac & Cheese / White Rice – Delicious, creamy, cheesy noodles… Mmmm. Sorry, I’m a jerk. But seriously, you can make some really yummy cold pasta salads with gluten free noodles. It’s lighter, healthier and filling! Or if you can’t give up your mac & cheese, throw some pureed veggies into your cheese sauce. Your kids will NEVER know. Replace white rice with brown rice, quinoa or barley!
- Ice Cream – I can kill a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in one setting if I don’t stop myself. Phish Food is what my dreams are made of. I can get the same happiness from some yummy greek yogurt with fruit or granola though. I really like the Mueller brand that has the yummy side of fruit as well as Noosa (mmm cherry and lemon!). You can also sprinkle on some chia seeds or chocolate covered hemp seeds (yes, I totally bought some of these the other day) for added crunchy goodness.
- Soda – I used to be addicted to Dr. Pepper, but I have recovered! I found some sparkling water that has lime/lemon/berry fruit essence. It really curbs my carbonation craving. Just avoid the ones with fake sweetener (aspartame)! There are also some good sodas out there made with real sugar and not HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). I will get myself a 6-pack of Hansen’s Cherry Vanilla Creme Soda maybe once or twice a year. That 6 pack will last me a good month at least because I’m just not used to drinking soda anymore.
- Sweet Tea – Hello. You aren’t a real Texas if you don’t LOVE sweet tea. I’m addicted and while I still have my regular sweet tea at family gatherings (thank you, Grandmama), I drink green tea mixed with a flavored tea (usually peach or raspberry) on a regular basis. It helps me get in my water intake as well!
- French Fries – Have you tried sweet potato fries? You can bake them to get them crispy without frying them. DELISH! You can also bake up some veggie “fries” like zucchini (slice in half and sprinkle with a little grated parmesan cheese before baking until browned on top).
- Candy – I have a major sweet tooth. I LOVE chocolate. I’ve started getting organic/fair trade/non-gmo/sprinkled with unicorn dust dark chocolate because not only is it better for me than milk chocolate, it’s not SO amazing that I want to eat an entire bar. I can break off a piece and my sweet tooth is satisfied. I also like to eat freeze dried fruit (especially pineapple!) as candy! That stuff is YUMMY!
- Red Meat – Ground beef can have a lot of fat. If it doesn’t have a lot of fat, it’s pretty pricey these days. Ground turkey is super lean, costs less and does everything that ground beef can do! I make turkey tacos, turkey chili and even turkey meatloaf!
- Chips and Dip / Condiments – Fritos and bean dip are pretty amazing, but full of salt and fat. There are a many healthier dips including hummus, salsa, tzatziki or guacamole. They are easy to make and pair perfectly with veggie sticks/slices (carrots, cucumbers, celery, etc) or pita chips. If you’re super awesome and use a juicer, you can make yourself some ultra hippie pulp crackers. You can use the dips in place of spreads on sandwiches or even in place of salad dressing. Mayonnaise, ketchup and ranch dressing have a lot of empty calories!
- Butter – Now who doesn’t love delicious, artery-clogging butter? You put it on toast, in your pasta, on your waffles and in your saute pan. You can replace that fattening butter with coconut oil. Coconut fats have medium chain triglycerides which lead to more efficient energy burning when broken down. Using coconut oil can actually help you get rid of stubborn tummy fat.
Next time you go grocery shopping, try to make sure you shop from mostly the outside edges of the store. Fresh fruits, veggies, meats, yogurts, and cheeses are what you should be consuming more of rather than foods in boxes or cans. If convenience is an issue, try to make out a meal plan and make up some freezer/crock pot meals of your own. I am working on a healthy meal plan to share here on the website, but until then, find a way to be accountable for what you put in your body. Set timers on your phone to eat an apple. Draw little veggies in your planner and cross them off as you consume your daily servings. Once you get into a habit of eating smart, you’ll wonder why you weren’t doing it all along!