Do you think that healthy and nutritious foods need to taste bland and flavorless? Do you feel deprived because your favorite recipes are off-limits due to the high calories, fat and sugar? Making meals count is important but, making meals taste good is important, too. Meals should be satisfying, delicious, pleasing to the eye and nutritious. Otherwise, you WILL feel deprived. The hardest part about a diet is feeling like you are giving up so much of what makes you happy, especially if you do not see any results right away. In reality, the sacrifices you make now will be worth it when you lose fat, get lean and feel amazing. The pay-off though, does not have to come at the cost of taste.
By adjusting the way you prepare your foods, you can cut hundreds of calories and slash the grams of fat and sugar without giving up flavor. The best part is that cutting calories out of your favorite meals is pretty simple! By following a few important cooking tips, you can easily switch to effective alternatives that are lower in fat, sugar and calories. Try modifying some of your favorite recipes by using the great substitutions listed below and you won’t ever need to eat a sparse and boring “healthy meal” any longer!
Healthy Cooking Substitutions
|Instead of:||Try this:|
|1 cup cream||1 cup evaporated milk|
|cream to chicken soups||pureed potatoes or vegetables|
|oil-based marinades||citrus juice or flavored vinegar|
|stick margarine||small amounts of olive oil, canola oil|
|2 ounces. Mild cheddar cheese||1 ounce reduced-fat sharp cheddar|
|white rice||brown rice, bulgur, kasha, quinoa,whole wheat couscous|
|meat or poultry for stir fry||tofu (extra-firm, cubed) or more vegetables|
|ground beef||ground turkey breast, finely chopped vegetables with less meat, crumbled tofu, tempeh, soy crumbles, beans|
|sugar as a sweetener||1 tsp. Honey|
Healthy Baking Substitutions
|Instead of:||Try this:|
|½ cup oil, butter or margarine||1 cup evaporated milk|
|1 egg||2 egg whites|
|sweetened condensed milk||fat-free sweetened condensed milk|
|evaporated milk||evaporated skim milk|
|1 cup chocolate chips||½ cup mini chocolate chips, chopped dried fruit, or chopped nuts|
|frosting||sliced fresh fruit with a dusting of powdered sugar|
|sour cream||nonfat sour cream, low-fat sour cream, pureed cottage cheese|
|whole milk||skim milk|
|cream cheese||low-fat cream cheese|
|sugar||artificial sweetener for some or all (follow manufacturer's directions); ¼ to ½ less sugar in the recipe|
While following a fitness plan, the hardest part is not always the motivation to get off the couch and get to the gym, but to change the eating habits you have developed over many years. This is one of the main reasons why weight loss is so difficult for many people. Unfortunately, you cannot have one without the other. Eating poorly and exercising will not result in successful weight loss. As soon as you stop working out, the pounds will pile right back on because your nutrition is not in place.
To become healthy and fit, you have to prepare yourself for serious life changes because many health professionals and nutritionists say that eating right is 80% of the battle. The most important part of your diet is balance. It is important to shed the salty, sugary snacks from your daily routine and start filling your body with food that is packed with nutrients to keep you going and to keep your energy levels up. Once you select the right food, the next step is controlling your portion sizes and adjusting your macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat). If you are pushing yourself in the gym and doing intense weight training, it’s important to fuel your body with clean complex carbs (brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes) to provide the energy you need to get through a tough workout along with a lean protein source – like whey – which provides fast acting amino acids for your hard working muscles.
Properly hydrating your body by drinking about a gallon of water a day is another important tip, especially if you are working out hard doing cardio and weight training since your body can easily become dehydrated throughout the day. By controlling your portions with unprocessed foods, keeping your intake of protein high and focusing on clean carbohydrates, you will be well on your way to losing body fat and meeting your fitness and physique goals.
If you are having trouble making those changes that lead to successful fat loss, the answer is to keep it simple and focus on the healthy cooking and baking alternatives as shown in the above tables so you can choose the best options while preparing your meals. Making small steps such as switching from whole eggs to eggs whites and upping your intake of green veggies to get additional fiber will pay off with big dividends down the road. Make sure to cut out all of those sugary soda drinks and juices, along with the fat laden potato chips and sinful cookies that provide your body with empty calories that pack on the pounds quickly while providing your body with very little nutritional benefits. It’s important to stay determined and focused on reaching your fitness goals because once you start seeing the results and feeling healthier, the changes in your recipes and meal preparation will become part of your daily routine!