Making smart food choices can make or break your health goals. The average American consumes 3682 calories per day, which is way above the recommended 2000 for women and 2500 for men. Over the course of just a month, this is the equivalent of 12lbs of fat!
Luckily for us, those excess calories don’t all get stored as pure fat in our bodies. But they do significantly contribute to it, so it’s definitely worth paying attention to what we eat. This doesn’t mean a strict diet of kale and water, just making some easy food substitutions to your usual meals.
You might be reading this thinking it doesn’t apply to you. But the surprising truth is that many of us underestimate the number of calories in a meal. According to research by the British Medical Journal, more than a quarter of people underestimate the energy content of a meal by at least 500 calories!
However, with some simple substitutions you can significantly reduce the calorie content of your meals, whilst also boosting its nutritional value too. Healthy eating isn’t about restriction but fuelling your body with the nutrients it needs to perform at its best. So here are 7 smart food substitutions that’ll make healthy eating easier…
#1 – Frozen Banana Whip
Frozen banana whip is an amazing substitute for sugar-laden ice-cream. It has the same creamy texture and sweet flavor as the real thing, yet without the calories. It’s also dairy-free which makes it perfect for anyone who is intolerant of lactose. Simply chop up a banana and freeze the slices on a baking tray. Once frozen, put the banana slices into a blender and blitz until smooth. Put it back in the freezer to harden again then enjoy topped with berries for an extra dose of antioxidants.
#2 – Zoodles
Zucchini noodles (aka zoodles) are an awesome substitute for pasta. They may not have the exact same texture but do deliver a filling fix of healthy carbs with loads of additional vitamins too. Once you’ve coated them in a delicious tomato sauce then you won’t miss the pasta anyway. Slice a zucchini into long, thin strips that resemble tagliatelle or spaghetti. Then dry fry them in a pan until soft and add your favorite sauce. This will satisfy any pasta cravings as well as adding some extra fiber and vitamin A to your meal.
#3 – Chips
There are lots of healthier alternatives to chips available in everyday supermarkets. You can find lighter versions of most chip varieties that have reduced salt and less saturated fat than the traditional packets. There are also savory popcorn options that use less oil and trans-fats than normal chips. However, the underlying reason that most of us crave chips is that we like things that are salty or crunchy. So substituting chips for raw veggies and dip is an even healthier alternative. Try carrot or cucumber sticks with a tasty hummus for vitamins and protein.
#4 – Veggie Pizza
Pizza is beloved by pretty much everyone so suggesting substitutes can be controversial. Let’s be honest… nothing tastes quite the same as a slice of real pizza! If you’re up for trying alternatives, then those made with a cauliflower or almond flour base are more nutritious than a standard one. But if you’re not up for that, then you can still make healthy tweaks to your normal pizza order. For instance, did you realize that there’s 50% less fat in a slice of veggie-topped pizza in comparison to a pepperoni one? It also contains 50 fewer calories too, which can soon add up if you’re eating a whole pizza.
#5 – Mac N Cheese
Macaroni and cheese is a pasta classic. The problem is that all those carbs and fats are like kryptonite to our health goals. To make a lighter version of this popular pasta dish, try substituting half of the macaroni for steamed broccoli instead. This adds some much-needed nutritional benefits to the meal, including more vitamin K, vitamin C, and vitamin A, along with extra dietary fiber. Yet because it’s all covered in a creamy cheese sauce, you won’t miss the substituted pasta at all!
#6 – Dark Chocolate
If chocolate is your downfall then try going for the darker version instead of milk or white. It contains less dairy, which means less fat and fewer calories. It also tastes much more rich and indulgent than ‘normal’ chocolate, so you won’t need to eat as much of it to satisfy a sweet tooth. Another option is to have a light mousse or chocolate yogurt instead. They give you the same feeling of a decadent dessert without the calories. Just be sure to read the nutritional label carefully to ensure you really are buying a healthier alternative.
#7 – Vegetable Sides
Most of us default to potatoes as our side of choice… Mash, fries, dauphinoise, or boiled are the usual accompaniment to most restaurant meals. But you can easily swap these for a vegetable alternative and instantly transform your meal into a healthier option. Potatoes don’t contain as many vitamins as other types of veg, so opting for carrots, kale, broccoli, beans, or a side salad will be infinitely more nutritious.
By making these smart food substitutions you can significantly reduce your calorie intake without sacrificing taste or flavor. In most cases you’ll also consume more vitamins and minerals as a result, which will further enhance your overall health. Instead of trying to cut things out of your diet cold-turkey, gradually introduce healthy swaps that you can stick with consistently. And as ever, if you’d like any advice or a personalized nutrition plan, then our personal training team can help.