food swaps

Swap and Drop: 7 Healthy Food Swaps for Weight Loss

April 27. 2021

So you’ve decided to overhaul your diet plans and start eating healthier. Great! One of the best ways to begin is to take a good, long look at your current diet and figure out where changes can be made. The good news is that you don’t have to start from scratch. Frankly, that’s often difficult to do and requires too much change at once. Small adjustments along the way is the best strategy to turn changes into lifelong habits.

When analyzing your diet, you’ll no doubt find some patterns. For instance, maybe you are drinking too many calories. Perhaps pasta has become a staple for all or most of your weekly meals. Figuring out these patterns will help you determine where changes need to be made. And one of the easiest ways to do this is to swap something out for a healthier version of itself.

How and What to Swap

Food swaps are more than just saying you should eat this instead of that. It goes a bit deeper. Here, you are going to take something that’s unhealthy or known to pack on the pounds (or both), and swap it out for a healthier, less calorie-packed version. Here are a few examples of some healthy food swaps you should make:

  1. Spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti pasta. When comparing the two, a cup of spaghetti is 220 calories and 44 grams of carbs. One cup of cooked spaghetti squash is 42 calories and 10 grams of carbs. Big difference!! You could easily eat 3 cups of spaghetti squash and still eat significantly less than the one cup of regular spaghetti. Cook the squash, cut it in half and fork out the insides. You’ll quickly discover why it’s referred to as spaghetti squash as it resembles spaghetti noodles. Just add your favorite marinara sauce and enjoy.
  2. Cauliflower rice instead of white rice. Cauliflower has become one of those foods that is a lot more versatile than people thought. It’s used as a substitute for rice, pizza crust, tater tots—even mashed potatoes. One cup of cauliflower rice is 50 calories and 8 grams of carbs. Compare that to half a cup of white rice which is 160 calories and 36 grams of carbs. You get twice as much to eat with the cauliflower rice with only a third of the calories and carbs. You can purchase already riced cauliflower or place a few florets into a blender until it has a rice-like consistency. Cook it up on the stovetop adding in whatever you like—from spices and seasonings to beans and vegetables.
  3. Old fashioned oatmeal instead of flavored oatmeal. If you’re not eating oatmeal, you should. It’s packed with vitamins and nutrients that can help lower your bad cholesterol and help with digestion. But if you are eating the kind that’s flavored, you’re eating too much sugar. One packet of maple brown sugar instant oatmeal contains 7 grams of sugar compared with 1 gram of sugar in one serving of regular oatmeal. Be sure you are eating old fashioned oats. It’s unprocessed so in terms of overall nutrition, it’s top-notch. If you do prefer some flavor in your oats, add fruit, peanut or almond butter, or ground cinnamon. Natural ingredients will keep your oatmeal as healthy as it’s meant to be. 
  4. Red wine instead of white wine. Sometimes a swap is about less calories and sometimes it’s just about a healthier option and that’s the case when it comes to wine. Red wine is made with grapes with the skin left on them whereas white wine is made with skinless grapes. Those skins have resveratrol which has been proven to provide many health benefits including lowering your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by increasing good cholesterol, easing joint pain and even slowing down the decline of brain function. But don’t forget to limit your wine to one serving. At roughly 120 calories a glass, you can easily add on unwanted calories that you’re trying hard to avoid.
  5. Flavored seltzer instead of soda. You probably already know that soda of any kind, diet or otherwise, is no good for you. But if you really like to drink something bubbly, seltzer is the way to go. With so many flavored versions to choose from, you’ll be able to find one (or more) flavors that you really enjoy. Another option is to drink unflavored seltzer with a squeeze of fruit in it. Create your own carbonated concoction.
  6. Plain low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream. Aside from the boost in protein you’ll get with yogurt, you’ll also be consuming less fat. Use plain low-fat yogurt the next time you make any type of dip for vegetables or chips. You can also use it to top your nachos or baked potato. Add some cayenne or salsa to it for a delicious and healthy topping.
  7. Stevia instead of sugar. There’s nothing good about refined sugar except that now there are much better alternatives. Stevia is made from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant and the extract can be nearly 300 times sweeter than regular sugar so you don’t need that much of it. Even better—it contains no calories if it’s not combined with any other sweeteners. Stevia can be used in your coffee, tea or anything else that you would regularly sweeten. You can bake with it as well.

Final thoughts

While there are many other food swaps you can make, these are a good start. Pasta, rice and sugar are usually the most commonly consumed foods so swapping them out means you may not have to make many other food swaps down the road. And remember to play around with these new foods. Try adding some soy sauce and ginger to turn cauliflower rice into an Asian delight. For a heartier meal, add a Bolognese sauce to your spaghetti squash. You can also use oat flour (made from oatmeal) instead of white flour the next time you bake.

Enjoy the versatility that some of these new foods have to offer. After a while, you won’t even remember what eating was like prior to these changes –or why you didn’t make them sooner.

For any other information, feel free to contact our Weight Loss Clinic in Chicago.

Nurse Walton


Nurse Walton

Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Chanay received her Practical Nurse licensure and went to work in clinical specialties such as Home Health, Assisted Living, Long-Term Care and Dialysis Centers. Through this work, she realized the importance of diet, nutrition and weight loss among her patients. This led her to open A Better Weigh, Inc. Medical Weight Loss Center in 2009.

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