Do you, like me, hate it when you read an article on food swaps and then whoever wrote the thing comes up with rubbish like ‘Feel the need to have chocolate? Try a piece of fruit instead!’ Yeah, no matter how determined I am, it just ain’t gonna happen.
Here you’ll find realistic swaps I make daily and which have served me well in the past in losing up to 3st and which I am now employing again to help me lose the pounds.
1.Swap potatoes for… root vegetables
Something I have adopted in all its form. If you’re a stickler for carbs and normally have a huge heap of potatoes, make a partial swap to root vegetables. Most of my mash is now made only of 50% potatoes (for the starch) and a 50% blend of carrots and parsnips. Not only is it more colourful, nutritiously varied and tasty, it is also significantly lower in calories, given that carrots only have 41 kcal/100g as opposed to potatoes with 77kcal/100g.
Similar goes for roasting, baking and crisping – all of which other root vegetables do just as well.
2. Swap minced beef for… lentils or mushrooms
Not all, just partially to keep the taste, but add more nutrient variety and lower the overall energy content. I tend to use 1/3 mushrooms : 2/3 mince or 1/4 lentils to 3/4 mince without it being noticeable. Just beware that with both you’ll need to add more herbs and spices than the recipe demands (lentils especially are taste-suckers) and that while mushrooms add moisture, lentils will remove it.
3. Swap chocolate bars for… hot chocolate
You will get the same fuzzy feeling of goodness and energy-wise, one hot chocolate equals about 6 squares of normal bar chocolate. The big difference is the time it takes to drink and savour. Let’s face it, a row of 4 squares is eaten in seconds and a second helping is nothing. When I was younger I could easily devour a whole bar in a minute or two. Hot chocolate, on the other hand, takes longer to drink, meaning you tend to reach satiation before you have finished your drink and won’t reach for a second helping that easily.
4. Swap low-fat and sweetened for full-fat and full-sugar
It seems mad when you’re trying to lose weight and a little counter-intuitive to add energy when you need to cut your overall calorie intake. But it works. For the last few thousand years and longer, your body has learned that sweet and greasy = energy. So when you try to trick your body by consuming sweetened version of the real stuff, your body is still responding to the sugar, but realising that it will not get what it needs – therefore making you crave more food. Studies have found that people who rely on sweeteners have increased appetites and often eat more than if they had chosen a full-sugar version. Fat is satiating and self-limiting, meaning that you will end up eating more if you go for lower-fat alternatives.
5. Swap food for… fluids
I’m sure you have heard this a million times before, but consider whether you may actually be thirsty. Tea infused with vanilla also helps curb appetite, so fewer food cravings unless you’re genuinely hungry.
So, what is your favourite food swap?