I hate food substitutions. Okay, I do not hate food substitutions, but when I think about food substitutions I lose my appetite. Why? Because usually you are told to eat celery instead of french fries.
Do not get me wrong – when I want to eat a salad, I make one with celery, carrots, bell peppers and other vegetables, but when I want french fries, I want french fries, not celery. That said, if I need to lose weight, I cannot expect to eat fast food and lose weight, and that is where food substitutions come in.
The trick here is not to avoid food substitutions, but to make them work by not making radical changes. To satisfy your cravings, you still need to feel as if you are eating your favorite junk food, at the same time, you want to shift calories around a bit, which brings me to Penny Geller, nutrition director for Nu-Kitchen meal service, who has come up with a way to make food substitutions to lose weight without losing your appetite.
At a barbeque Replace potato salad with cucumber salad. Beware the side dishes at the family barbecue, says Geller. Instead of a mayo-drenched potato salad (roughly 400 calories per cup), fill up on a cucumber salad with shredded onions and vinegar dressing – which can have as few as 50 calories.
At the boardwalk Replace curly fries with plain popcorn. For a salty boardwalk fix, Geller advises nixing the curly fries (which can pack up to 500 calories per cup) and opting for air-popped popcorn for about 100 calories a cup. With a dash of Old Bay seasoning on top, she notes, it will satisfy the same carving.
At the beach Replace a banana split with frozen yogurt and berries. No need to ditch a refreshing treat. But instead of indulging in a banana split (which has at least 500 calories), Geller suggests cooling down with low-fat frozen yogurt, strawberries and a drizzle of chocolate syrup for less than half the calories.
At a game Replace a soft pretzel with cracker jack. Sure, that soft stadium-style pretzel is tempting, but Geller warns it can pack more than 450 calories. She suggests grabbing some Cracker Jack for a low-fat sweet-and-salty treat that has only about 120 calories per half cup. [via]