Have you ever perused the book “Eat This, Not That“? It is not a diet. It simply tells you to things like instead of eating that giant Baskin Robbins ice cream sundae, grab a hot fudge sundae without nuts from McDonald’s. Sounds simple. It has been a very long time since I’ve laid eyes on that book but the concept stuck in my head. When starting Weight Watchers years ago I realized that, even though they say that you don’t have to, I would have to give up some of my favorite foods. Well, for the most part. I couldn’t have things regularly. I had to make choices and they had to be good ones most of the time. The hard part about that was finding “replacement” food to fill those voids. It was a sort of game I played with myself. I knew that I would still want a little something sweet after dinner some nights. The old “I’ll grab a scoop of ice cream” or “hey, just a few cookies” was NOT going to allow me to reach my goal.
The game I played with myself was a simple game of food swap. I remembered back to “Eat This, Not That” and searched out easy changes that I could make in my everyday eating that would satisfy my hunger and “need” but at the same time not overload me on silly calories I didn’t need. Thus, finding the balance between what I wanted to eat and what I should eat.
Now, before you start getting all tight lipped and shaking your head at me, hear me out. I am not the kind of girl who is going to tell you that you should eat cauliflower instead of potatoes. Girl, eat a potato. Cauliflower is yummy. It can be made into a crust. It can be squished and mashed. It can be raw or eaten with your favorite dip. It cannot, however, be a potato. It’s cauliflower.
I’m also not a magician. I don’t like lying to my kids. So I am also not going to tell you to put peas in your guacamole or hide brussel sprouts in mac n cheese. All are wonderful, none of them are meant for each other.
I’m a real life girl. I love food. I’ll skip the part about how many calories you should eat, how often, and tell you to eat your fruits and veggies – I mean really pack those suckers in there because they are free and really help take care of that hunger bug – because we are past that now, aren’t we? You know this. You want real life. Yes? (Here is where you nod your head.) Okay. Now that we have that out of the way let’s talk about some of my favorite substitutions.
I am a big water drinker. This has never been an issue for me. I drink water most all the time. I do like a glass of unsweet tea. Occasionally, I will have a soda (usually with pizza because my brain thinks they go together). Sometimes though I will want something different, something that isn’t water, tea, or soda. That is where Crystal Light has saved me. If I have a hankering sweet tooth or just want something to give me a little “ummph” I will mix up a strawberry, grape, raspberry peach, or my favorite pink lemonade Crystal Light drink mix. Just one does the trick!
Pasta was always a very hard one digest (see what I did there?) when it comes to counting calories or points. I did remove pasta as it relates to my regular routine. We ate pasta A LOT. We toned it down quite a bit and we replaced regular pasta with Ronzoni Smart Taste. It helps with carbs and with calories. You still have to watch your serving size and I wouldn’t recommend eating it every single day but when you do want pasta and spaghetti squash just isn’t going to cut it (because why would it? It’s squash) it is a viable alternative that can save a bit.
The most beneficial swap I have made may not really seem like an even swap but it somehow works for me. I literally trained myself to eat yogurt. It’s become a sort of joke in my family and with my friends because I swear by its effectiveness. I hated yogurt. I hated the smell, the texture, the aftertaste, the fact it was like eating sour cream with a spoon for breakfast. Yep, all of it. Until I met Greek yogurt. I think it was the attractiveness of the protein and calcium that drew me in. I decided to give it a try. For two weeks I ate yogurt every morning for breakfast. It was torture for the first three days and then something happened. I wasn’t hungry at 10 a.m. anymore. I ate breakfast and actually felt full. I found a low calorie granola that I mix a bit in with it to give me some “crunch” texture. I do swear that it is the best swap I’ve made. Yum!
We all know I have a major sweet tooth. There are nights that I will wander around and my husband will say, “looking for something sweet?” He knows. I try so hard. To curb that late night sweet tooth I have been known to sub grabbing ice cream with a low-fat fudge bar or instead of grabbing a cookie (or my favorite and Oreo), I eat a chocolate Belvita. They are the best! Still something to count, but much easier on the calories than a cookie and if you’re dying for some “double stuff” you can throw on a spoonful of Cool Whip.
There are tons of other little places you can save some calories like reduced fat peanut butter or even better, PB2 – where has that stuff been all my life?! Take your regular every day eating habits and give them a little makeover. You may have to do some research, but you don’t have to give up absolutely everything. Sometimes it’s just a simple swap.
My last piece of advice is this – swap all you want, but if you truly, TRULY, want that cupcake then drink a glass of water, walk away, and if you still truly, TRULY want it twenty minutes later, eat the cupcake. Because what happens all too often to me is I drink the water, come back and eat four other things and then…eat the cupcake. Only you know you the best and it’s you that the scale will answer to. Choose wisely and mindfully.
What is one of your favorite foods that you have learned to swap?
With what substitution do you swap it out?
Until next month…
Want More? AWN “Journey to You” Series
Post 1: Out of Control
Post 2: Baby Steps
Post 3: Getting Real
Post 4: The Importance of Battle Buddies
Post 5: 5 Favorite Apps & Websites
Post 6: Adding Exercise