Healthier Food Substitutes

By Linda Manley

OK, you say that diets don’t work for you. You just don’t seem to be able to weigh, measure, or portion your foods consistently enough to lose those few pounds. So instead of dieting, try food substitution. Switching out less healthy foods for those that are rich in nutrients will help you feel fuller longer and will contribute to your overall good health.

Try fixing sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes in any form. Baked or mashed sweet potatoes are completely yummy and more filling than white potatoes, and they are packed with vitamins A and C as well as fiber. You can cut them into fingers, coat with cooking spray, and pop them into the oven for delicious unfried French fries.

An easy switch is green tea for coffee. Green tea is rich in antioxidants and has only one-sixth the caffeine of coffee. You can drink iced green tea instead of soda, or drink herbal tea either hot or iced instead of other choices. Of course, water is always an excellent choice, and it’s an incredibly better choice than soda pop. Whether regular or diet, soda contains phosphoric acid, which actually robs your bones of calcium.

Swap fish for red meat and olive or canola oil for butter to reduce cholesterol in your diet. More varieties of fish are available today than ever before, so you don’t have to be in a rut with salmon fillets or canned tuna. Try shark, mahi-mahi, grouper, snapper, halibut, cod, catfish, or other varieties you find in the seafood section.

Olive oil is now made by big-name American manufacturers as well as by the original importers. If you are wary of trying Italian or Spanish olive oil, try one of the home-grown brands. Use it for cooking, salad dressings, and bread dip. Flaxseed oil is rich in omega-3s and antioxidants and is a good substitute for fish oil in vegan diets.

Think “brown” instead of “white” when it comes to rice, bread, and pasta. Whole wheat bread, or other whole grain bread, can be found in any grocery store. It contains more fiber and is more filling than white bread. Brown rice has a wonderful nutty flavor and still retains all the nutrients that over-processed white rice has lost. Whole-wheat pasta or spinach pasta adds a new dimension to your casseroles and soups. You’ll be amazed at the rich flavor!

We all know that most desserts are far from healthy, yet we crave something sweet at the end of a meal. Instead of cakes or pastries, have fresh fruit. Berries are among the superfoods in nutrition. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, and cherries are as rich in flavor as they are in color and nutrients. Mix the fruits with nonfat yogurt or add a dollop of whipped topping and a sprinkle of cinnamon, and you have a satisfying, healthy dessert.

Making these healthy, satisfying, substitutions may be the answer to your dieting woes. One thing is for sure: you’ll be eating much healthier!

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