Healthy Food Swaps You’ll Like

Looking to lose weight? (Who isn’t?) We’ve discovered some small, simple changes that can have a big and positive effect.

One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to shed a few pounds is revamping their entire diet.  We’ve seen people swear off carbs completely. Or limit themselves to only juice. Or try to live on cabbage soup, and nothing but cabbage soup.

Yeesh. Although such radical eating plans may strip off fat in the short term, you know how the story ends. Followers often rebound to their original weight—and higher—because deprivation diets can’t be maintained.

A smarter approach is to identify weak spots in your eating habits and make small changes that will eventually make them a thing of the past. Over time it’s a proven route to shedding pounds and keeping them off. To get started, we’ve found some simple food tweaks you can begin making today. Adopt just one each week, letting your taste buds adapt. The result. You’ll soon be just a little bit healthier (and consuming fewer calories, too).

Add seltzer water to fruit juice. A glass of OJ or other fruity juice can be a refreshing treat. But did you know that, ounce per ounce, many fruit juices have more calories than soda. Here’s a simple trick to keep the flavor you enjoy but lighten it up: Fill half your juice glass with a zero-calorie seltzer water. If you’re drinking juice not as refreshment, but to up your fruit intake, try biting into the real thing instead.

Swap sugary breakfast cereal for oatmeal. This chilly-morning breakfast classic is fast becoming a year-round staple. That’s because it’s a whole grain, which we’re encouraged to eat more of to keep cholesterol levels in check. The extra fiber in oatmeal, compared to many packaged cereals, is also more filling and helps prevent midmorning energy dips. You can jazz up your steaming bowl with unsweetened dried fruit, nuts, a dash of cinnamon, even a small swirl of honey.

Stir frozen vegetables into canned soup. The addition of vegetables—choose your favorite—instantly raises the nutritional value of your soup. Plus, the extra fiber will help you feel fuller, longer.

Trade an all-beef burger for one made of salmon or turkey breast, or even a Portobello mushroom or beans. Expand your taste horizons by trying alternatives to your favorite burger that are much lower in calories and saturated fat. Mindful offers some tasty burger alternatives you can try the next time you’re in line. To ease into the new flavor, use similar seasonings and bring out your favorite condiments. Earn bonus points for adding fresh vegetable toppings.

Spread mustard or hummus on sandwiches. You can ditch high-fat mayo and still make a mouthwatering sandwich. Hummus is not only flavorful but it delivers protein and fiber. It goes great with just about any vegetable and meats like roasted turkey or chicken. Tangy mustard also has some protein and fiber, as well as many B vitamins, potassium, and other nutrients. Enjoy it on a classic ham or lean roast beef sandwich.

Sprinkle less cheese on pizza. Asking for half the amount of cheese that’s normally used on a pie trims the amount of saturated fat in a way you won’t taste. Other pizza makeovers include swapping whole wheat for a regular crust and opting for vegetable toppings instead of meat options. Lucky you, Mindful pizzettas include these good-for-you options.

Use extra virgin olive oil in place of vegetable oil. EVOO, as Rachael Ray likes to say, is high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Plus, it’s a versatile pantry staple that can be used for cooking, dipping, and drizzling. At home keep it close at hand when you’re sautéing or prepping food for the grill or to roast. At lunch, reach for it near the salad bar to quickly craft an on-the-spot salad dressing or to flavor your bread.

Dip those chips in guacamole, not cheese. Mashed avocados are a rich and satisfying substitute that’s filled with omega-3 fatty acids, a good-for-you fat that’s been linked to better heart health. Add some tomatoes and spices and you’ve got a savory treat that’s every bit as enjoyable as your old cheese dips. Once you’re hooked, give guac a try as a bagel topping or sandwich spread. Yum!

Stash the bread and reach for a wrap. This strategy can help you cut carbs without sacrificing flavor. Just be sure to opt for a whole grain wrap to get the most health benefits.

Keep fruit within easy reach. Most people are convenience eaters. Make fruit more accessible than, say, that bowl of candy near your desk or the vending machine down the hall, and it will get eaten. The next time you stop in for lunch or a coffee break, pick up an apple or orange to tote back with you. How easy is that!

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