Weight often rebounds soon after dieting? When it comes to making a lifestyle change, the best strategy is to take small, baby steps. Small habit changes are easy to achieve, and can produce big results too. Dieting may produce fast initial weight loss, but the result is often not sustainable. Better yet, swapping in healthy substitutions will help you nix calories without starving yourself.
1. Spread avocado instead of butter on your toast
Melting butter on a warm piece of toast is a satisfying sight. While there’s nothing wrong in eating butter once in a while, replacing butter with mashed avocado has incredible health benefits. Not only will it cut down on saturated fat, avocado also boosts your body with heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, gut-friendly fiber, and blood pressure-lowering potassium. One tablespoons of butter contains 102 calories which almost entirely comes from fat. The calories provided by two tablespoons of avocado is just half that from butter - clocking in at 50 calories. In addition, mashed avocado also offers 2 grams of fibre and over 150 mg of potassium - both of which are virtually absent in butter. A simple swap like this not only slashes a significant amount of calories, but also provides your body with additional nutrients. Why not swap more often?
2. Choose soup macaroni instead of instant noodles
Heading out for a quick breakfast at your neighborhood cafe? A bowl of instant noodles with egg and luncheon meat is a staple item on the menu. The reason instant noodles can be so instant is that it has been pre-fried. In this case, it’s often fried in saturated-fat-laden palm oil. Swapping instant noodles with macaroni instantly saves at least 150 to 200 calories! In addition, macaroni is made with simple ingredients like wheat and water, while the ingredient list for instant noodles is often at least 6 lines long and full of food additives. Therefore, in addition to saving calories, swapping in macaroni can help your body avoid those unnecessary chemicals.
3. Enjoy oatmeal instead of breakfast cereal
For some, homemade breakfast is the most wholesome meal of the day. And if you don’t eat whole grains such as brown rice at lunch or dinner, breakfast is the only meal left to include nutrient-dense whole grains. When it comes to breakfast, some people may think that breakfast cereals are healthy options due to fancy imagery on the packaging. But the reality is that most breakfast cereals are refined grains, missing fibre and other fat-soluble nutrients typically found in bran and germ. More importantly, most breakfast cereals are highly processed and contain added sugar and additives. If you check the ingredient list, you may find sugar often being listed as the second or third ingredient; and sometimes, there are more than one type of sweeteners in the ingredient list so look carefully.
Swapping breakfast cereal with oats not only adds a bunch of vitamins and minerals, but also an important nutrient, soluble fibre. Eating soluble fibre has multiple health benefits including earlier satiety and suppressing appetite, thus making you feel full longer. A 2014 research revealed that this feeling of fullness after eating oatmeal lasted at least 4 hours. In particular, beta glucans, a form of soluble fibre found in oats, can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol as well as stabilize blood sugar. When purchasing oat products at grocery stores, choose unflavored, steel-cut or rolled oats and avoid flavored instant oatmeal. If desired, top with extra berries or fruits for extra sweetness.
4. Make sandwiches with hummus instead of mayonnaise
When we order a sandwich or wrap at the cafe, there’s often a choice to choose the spread. Often time mayonnaise is the standard option. Mayonnaise contains 94 calories with no fiber, merely 0.1 g of protein, but a whopping 10 g of fat. But if you have a choice, go for hummus instead. Going from animal-based to plant-based will not skimp on flavor and you gain all the health benefits. Hummus is made by mashing chickpeas with lemon juice, tahini, and other spices, making it a wholesome dip with an extra kick of plant-based protein and fibre. Two tablespoon of hummus provides half of that from mayonnaise - only 50 calories. In addition, it offers 1.8 g of fiber, 2.4 g of protein and only 1.4 g of fat, a nutritional profile that benefits people managing weight and blood sugar. A simple substitution like this not only adds waist-friendly nutrients, but also introduces new flavours and a nutrition boost.
Gloria Tsang - Registered Dietitian