Monday, January 30, 2012

Choose wisely

I often feel as though I am in the constant state of “dieting.”  With the scale staring at me every time I enter our bathroom, I’m daily reminded of the need to “take that run” or say “no” to that ice cream.  Summertime is especially the worst for me, as the hot air and full days keep me from any chance of a consistent exercise routine.

Several years ago, Steve and I were challenged to make some simple “swaps” when it came to our eating habits.  Without noticing a huge difference, and watching some “easy pounds” melt away, it became a lifestyle choice for us.   On rare occasion we will “splurge” and indulge in the “good stuff”, but for the most part, we adhere to these healthier options.  (Although I've never read them, I know there are several books that include great swap options.  They are "The Biggest Loser - Simple Swaps" and "Eat this, Not that!")  

Here are some of the easy swaps we made, and 8 options for you to adopt as well!  

1.     Turkey Meat – In our home, it will be a rare day for you to find anything other than turkey meat!  We’ve swapped out turkey bacon, turkey hot dogs, and even ground turkey for the “real thing” and hardly noticed a difference!  With nearly the same consistency and taste of beef, you’ll smile at the hundred of calories and high percentages of fat you’ll save by simply swapping out your meat!
2.     Cut off the fat! – Okay, this really isn’t a “swap” but it sure does save you calories!  Whenever we buy chicken (or steak) from the grocery, one of the first things we do, before putting on a marinade or letting it travel out to the grill is to cut off any excess skin or fat we see on the meat!  Once it cooks, it can be hard to see, and easy to eat, but if you cut it off, then you don’t have to worry about eating empty calories.
3.     Pudding – Here’s a swap that I challenge you to try!  Rather than sitting down on the coach to watch the biggest loser and indulging in your bowl of decadent ice cream, try eating pudding with a dollop of cool whip on the top instead!  Again, you’ll save yourself 100 calories (or more, depending upon how much ice cream you eat!), without even noticing!
4.     Coffee Creamer – Are you a devout coffee drinker?  We are!  Steve and I typically go through 1-2 FULL pots of coffee every day, and sometimes even more!  Without even realizing it we were “sipping down” hundreds of calories in creamers, and not feeling full in the least. That’s when we switched.  Instead of half-and-half I use skim milk instead, and save myself nearly 40 calories a cup.  Steve (not a huge milk fan!) has switched to sugar free creamer, which saves him 20 calories a cup – quite a difference if you drink several cups a day!
5.     Popcorn – Do you get that evening “munching” feeling?  We do!!  We usually wind down at the end of each day by watching something on our TV, and when we finally sit down and stop, it’s not unusual for one of us to ask the other “do you want a snack?”  Early on we would head to the pantry to find Oreo cookies, chips, or something even worse for us!  Now, we head to the pantry to pop a bag of 100-calorie popcorn!  With the delicious flavor of Kettle Corn, and only eating 50 calories each, we’re not left longing for a thing.
6.     Diet Soda – Okay, so the nutritionists in your life will probably not agree with us here, but one of the best switches we have made is to choose “diet” soda, rather than drinking down that 100+ calories per glass in the regular stuff!  Steve can’t quite stomach the truly diet options just yet, so he’s sticking to Coke Zero, etc., but I challenge you to give it a try!  The tastes may take a little getting used to, but the pounds you’ll save in the long run, are worth the change!
7.     Part-skim cheese – One of the easiest swaps you can make, without really even noticing, is purchasing part-skim, or low-fat cheese in the grocery.  I’m sure there is one, but we really can’t tell a difference!
8.     Fresh – Okay, so this one may seem obvious to everyone, but instead of buying processed snack food, dosed with sugars and who knows what else because we can’t understand the ingredient list, buy fresh fruits to snack on instead.  Apples and Peanut Butter (low-fat) are one of our most favorite snacks!  Strawberries are also a great choice, and even yummy watermelon can be a delicious treat.  Here’s the bottom line – if you don’t buy the other stuff, it’s not going to sit and tempt you at home.  Instead, your healthier options will entice you and your slimmer waistline will thank you!
What about you?  What simple swaps have you made to save yourself calories and pounds?  Let us know!  We’d love to hear from you!

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