Lots of people lose weight on diets and most of them gain the weight back. Why? Because when you go on a strict diet, you dramatically change how and what you eat for the purpose of losing weight. Once you reach your goal, you don’t want to continue to restrict yourself to a rigid diet so you gradually (or abruptly) revert back to the unhealthy eating habits that lead to a heavier you.
Instead of falling into the deprivation-binge cycle again, I recommend making small, easy tweaks to your eating habits to slowly (and hopefully, permanently) transition to a healthy diet that will gradually guide you and your family to your ideal weight and/or improve your health.
- Eat “whole grain” versions of bread, pasta, cereal, rice, etc. Many products are out there that make this transition super easy, like whole grain white bread and General Mills whole grain cereals that appeal to kids such as Reese’s Puffs or Cookie Crisp.
- Cut back on sugar. Instead of sugar-laden juice drinks, switch to flavored water. Don’t necessarily look for sugar-free items since they usually carry added chemicals. Instead, opt for items that have “no added sugar.” Use low-calorie, natural sweeteners such as stevia or honey in lieu of sugar where you can. Then, gradually cut back on the amount of sweetener you use altogether.
- Switch from ice cream to frozen yogurt.
- Use non-fat, plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream.
- Stock up on a variety of Mrs. Dash and use these to season your food instead of salt.
- Use low-sodium versions of broth, sauces, and condensed soups.
- Switch to natural peanut butter.
- Try to eat a fruit or vegetable at every meal (including snacks).
- Work some dark, leafy greens into your salad (e.g. spinach, kale or arugula)
- Drink at least one full glass of water with each meal (including snacks).
- If you drink whole milk, switch to 2%. If you drink 2%, try 1% or non-fat milk.
- Use extra virgin olive oil instead of vegetable oil for cooking.
- Use an olive oil spray instead of olive oil in nonstick pans and baking dishes.
- Use applesauce, mashed banana, or mashed avocado instead of butter or oil in baking. For any of these, you can substitute using a 1:1 ratio, but if you use applesauce, reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by ¼ cup for every 1 cup of applesauce.
- Use nuts instead of croutons in salads and instead of granola in yogurt.
- Opt for turkey bacon in lieu of regular bacon and ground turkey in lieu of ground beef (or do half turkey and half beef).
- Buy the leanest meats instead of fattier versions
- Try bison instead of beef on occasion.
- Where you can, substitute 2 egg whites (or ¼ cup) for 1 egg. Egg Beaters is a nice way to transition from eggs to egg whites because it more closely resembles them, but try to gradually transition to actual egg whites to avoid the additives.
- Try “baked” version of your favorite “fried” recipes (e.g. baked fried chicken, or baked French fries).
- Try sweet potatoes in place of regular potatoes and sweet potato fries in place of French fries.
- Instead of bread crumbs or traditional breading, try crushed high fiber cereal.
- Use corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas.
- For your salty snack, abandon the potato chips for popcorn.
- For your chocolate binge, opt for dark chocolate.
Remember, the goal is to GRADUALLY eat healthier so you will stick with it so don’t try all of these swaps at once. Instead, introduce one or two of them at a time.
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