Tips For Substituting High-Calorie Foods With Lower-Calorie Alternatives

If you’re looking for ways to cut calories, saying goodbye to your favorite foods forever can feel overwhelming, and may even thwart your progress. A more powerful strategy might be to find substitution foods and ingredients, which mimic the dishes you love, but are healthier and less fattening. Researching lower-calorie alternatives to old favorites can be liberating and empowering, too, providing the opportunity to really learn about what you’re eating. It’s not even hard to do, especially if you truly love food.   

The National Institutes of Health stress the importance of keeping nutrition first and foremost when choosing any type of food and offer some great substitution ideas to help get you percolating. They include:

  • Swap out whole milk for skim or reduced-fat milk  
  • Opt-in to sorbet or sherbet instead of high-fat ice cream
  • Trade in sour cream for ready-made low-fat frozen yogurt, or freeze Greek yogurt containers in your favorite flavors for even less calories and more variety
  • Say adios to Alfredo and cheese-styles sauces and use marinara sauce on whole wheat or low-carbohydrate pasta, instead  
  • Avoid high-fat granola and opt-in to healthier bran flakes, oatmeal or low-fat granola varieties for breakfast instead
  • Say goodbye to those yolks and go for egg white omelets with lots of veggies and whole-wheat toast

Read Labels

Many foods, from cheese to bacon, have low-fat and low-salt alternatives ready-made you can buy. Keep in mind that often, when a packaged food has something taken out, like fat, something else is put in to create a more palatable texture or flavor, like sugar, salt or corn syrup, defeating the purpose. Take a few minutes to read the label’s nutrition facts. It may also help to use a nutrition app, like the CTHRU Nutrition (Version 2) or others you enjoy while shopping, so you really know what you’re getting. Some safe, ready-made substitutions to high-fat foods include:

  • Low-fat, low-sodium cold cuts instead of high-fat, prepackaged varieties
  • Turkey bacon instead of pork bacon
  • Chicken, Tofu or low-fat hotdogs instead of high-fat beef hotdogs
  • Water-packed tuna instead of oil-packed tuna
  • Olive oil-based or light versions of mayonnaise for high-fat mayonnaise
  • Balsamic vinegar salad dressing instead of Thousand Island
  • Broth-based boxed soup instead of heavy cream-based canned soup

Get Creative

Whether it’s Sunday supper or Monday night football, low-fat substitutions for high-fat recipes can please a crowd while keeping your waistline happy. Some delectable alternatives to try include:

  • Use teriyaki sauce on chicken wings instead of barbecue sauce
  • Make mashed cauliflower with fat-free cream cheese instead of mashed white potatoes with butter
  • Bake Brussel sprouts with balsamic vinegar and olive oil instead of au gratin style with cheese and breadcrumbs
  • Make kale chips fresh and serve instead of store bought potato chips
  • Slice up ripe bananas and freeze overnight to serve as an after dinner sweet instead of canned fruit in syrup

With a little bit of practice, you’ll find yourself flexing the low-fat, eat-this-not-that muscle without even realizing it. One amazing perk you may notice right away is added enjoyment in eating, as food becomes more of a friend and less of an enemy. You may also notice that the real flavors of food come through delectably, when they’re not masked in heavy sauces or added, fatty ingredients. Another awesome result? A slimmer, healthier you. Now get substituting!