There are foods that are good for you… And foods that are not (or not AS good!) One of the major things I did was to “swap out” bad for good and, in some cases, good for even better!
My main goal was to feel better. If I lost some weight, that would be great, but initially I just wanted to eat healthier foods. I also wanted to change things in my husband’s diet. I wasn’t aiming specifically for weight loss for him either, but to lower his blood pressure and keep his cholesterol in check. As I sort of figured would happen, we lost weight in addition! So some of the swaps below were for him, and some for me.
Swap #1: Sour Cream for Plain, **Low-fat Greek Yogurt
My favorite snack last year was (don’t gag!) what I call “sticks and cream”. It was a product called Veggie Stix, made by Good Health Natural Snacks… These aren’t that bad in moderation. But I used them as a spoon for sour cream, which I absolutely LOVED. I would get started eating these out of the bag, dipping into the carton of sour cream and munching away while watching a TV show or reading a book. Before I knew it… I’d eaten all of it. In one sitting! That’s 1750 mg of sodium, 910 calories for the stix, 900 more calories for the 16 oz container of sour cream… 1810 calories in all.
One of the first things I did was buy some greek yogurt. I couldn’t get it at the local grocery where I used to live. I’d wanted to try it for some time, since I read that it had more protein per ounce in it than regular yogurt. I tried a few brands until I found one that gave me the same satisfaction (taste, thickness, mouth feel) as sour cream. I LOVE it. I now eat it daily. No going back to sour cream! I actually use it on Mexican food, baked potatoes, and anything else I would normally put sour cream on. I also use it to make Tzatziki, so we end up eating it with our Mediterranean dishes also.
My husband used to eat a fruited Light Yoplait almost every day. I convinced him to try a fruited greek yogurt. He liked that and dropped the Yoplait. Now, he is happy to mix nuts, flax seed meal and fresh fruit into the plain greek yogurt. No more little containers in the fridge, and a healthier option for him, too.
Swap #2: Diet Pepsi for Iced Tea
I used to drink gallons of Diet Pepsi. I knew it wasn’t a good idea, but having iced tea in the fridge was a major process. And alot of it was bitter tasting to me, and I didn’t want to sweeten it with sugar or NutriSweet. So I came up with a plan! I bought a nice, automatic coffee maker. I got this one from Amazon:
I chose it by researching and reading reviews to find the brand, and I chose this particular model because you can also get a single cup of hot water from it almost on demand.
I bought tea from Teavana. I tried several teas there, and settled on the English Breakfast Tea as my basic, daily tea. I also happen to like their Pineapple Kona Pop tea, which I have sometimes as a treat, mixed with the daily tea.
My husband normally gets up in the morning before I do, so he agreed to make tea every morning! The coffee maker will make up to 12 cups of tea at a time, which is almost enough for 1 day for me. We don’t make it super strong, and I do add some water to it when I put it in the refrigerator.
So, I ended up eliminating 300mg of sodium and 1475 mg of aspartame per day. In addition, my daily drink cost went way down. It’s actually less expensive (including the coffee maker) to make tea than to drink the soda!
Swap #3: Jif Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter for I.M Healthy Soy Nut Butter
I have problems with peanuts. I’m not totally allergic to them, but many years ago I developed a problem where even the slightest amount of peanut would give me terrible stomach cramps. I suspect the initial trigger was medication I took that somehow disabled my body’s ability to digest them. The problem is (slowly) going away, and I can now eat peanuts and peanut butter. But…
DH was eating a lot of peanut butter (and bread). The brand we normally bought was Jif Extra Crunchy. It has 190 calories, 115 mg sodium, 2.5 g of saturated fat and 3 g of sugar in two level tablespoons. It also contains saturated fat and sugar. It’s never been my favorite, but it’s the one he liked the best.
I wanted to have more soy products in my diet. While there is mixed evidence on soy products lowering cholesterol, I figured it wouldn’t be any worse than the peanut butter DH was eating. I decided to buy a jar of I.M. Healthy Soy Nut Butter for me. It has 170 calories, 1.5 g of saturated fat, 100 mg of sodium, 3 g of sugar in two level tablespoons. We both really liked it! When the Jif ran out, we didn’t buy any more. Then… I discovered it also came in CHOCOLATE. This version has 0 mg of sodium, but more calories and sugar. We now keep this version in the house, too, and use it for tasty treats.
Swap #4: Tillamook Cheese for Soy Station Cheese
We both love cheese. We both have problems with “moderation” when it comes to cheese. Our favorite was Tillamook Sharp Cheddar. It has 110 calories (30% of which are saturated fat), 25 mg of cholesterol, and 170 mg sodium in 1 oz.
I decided to try Soy Station Cheddar Style shreds. It has 63 calories (NO saturated fat), 0 mg of cholesterol, and 190 mg of sodium. In this case, I didn’t get a sodium reduction, but I decided to try it anyway because it contained no saturated fat. I read a review on various soy cheese products and this particular brand was recommended. It will melt a bit (it does not get as “gooey” as a dairy cheese) and it tastes good. Also, we now measure out cheese, so we have greatly reduced the volume of consumption, so I’m not overly worried about the salt. We have this, or other Soy Station cheeses about once a week. It comes in Mozzarella, Parmesan and a 3-cheese blend. They also make both Cheddar and Swiss slices. Our regular grocery store (Sprouts) only carries the Cheddar and Mozzarella shreds. I wish I could find the Parmesan so I could find out what it tastes like!
Swap #5: Brummel & Brown “Spread” for Colavita Olive Oil
I ate margarine on bread. Now days, most of those containers aren’t even labled “margarine”… now they are called “spreads”. I assume this is because the government has rules on what can actually be called margarine. The brand I liked was Brummel & Brown. It has yogurt in it, so it has to be better for you, right? It has 45 calories, 1.5 g saturated fat, 2.5 g poly unsaturated fat, 1 g monosaturated fat and 90 mg of sodium in one tablespoon. It also has a long list of ingredients, some of which might surprise you. At the top of the list? WATER. In other words, the product contains a larger percentage of water than anything else! That’s expensive water!
I’ve always liked olive oil. In particular I happen to like Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil. 1 tablespoon of olive oil contains 119 calories, 2 g of saturated fat and 0 mg of sodium. Virgin olive oils also contain the antioxidants beta-carotene and Vitamin E, as well as the phenolic compounds tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol. (Note: you may want to click on the links and read about both of the last two if they aren’t familiar to you! Interesting!)
Olive oil is our main “fat in a bottle”. Other fats in our diet are naturally in the foods we eat: Omega 3 eggs, fish, nuts, avocado, etc.
We’ve made many other significant changes in our diet.
One is that we’ve swapped out fish for most other meats. We have some kind of “red meat” on occasion, but I often try to use lamb instead of beef. We eat chicken once in a while. But I actually prefer fish.
I’m in the process of switching from wheat/gluten products to gluten-free.
And if you’ve been following along on Thursday’s this month, you already know about the fruits and veggies.
If you’re interested in eating healthier, you might want to evaluate what’s in your pantry and fridge and make some of your own “swaps”!
Coming in July: Leading an Organized Life!