Think you need to give up your favorite foods to stay on track? You don’t! These painless tweaks will keep you feeling satisfied, not deprived. Give them a try – the only thing you’ll be giving up are all those extra calories!
1. Swap Your Starbucks. If a Grande Caffe Mocha is on your morning to-do list, listen up! Get your coffee fix with the equally delicious Grande Skinny Mocha and save yourself 120 calories. (photo credit here)
2. Give Your Muffin a Makeover. A store-bought blueberry muffin contains around 250 calories, most of which come from refined flour and sugars, setting you up for a sugar high-crash cycle which will lead to cravings long before lunchtime. Instead, try whipping up a batch of these Skinny Blueberry Muffins. You can eat two and still come in almost 100 calories for the better, and bonus: you’ll be getting a whopping 12 grams of protein per muffin – keeping you full and focused until lunch!
3. Go Topless (On Your Sandwich). Most whole grain breads contain about 100 calories per slice. Skip the top piece and enjoy your sandwich “open face” to bank those 100 calories without sacrificing the satisfaction of the carbs.
4. Pick a Soup-er Side. Think soups are the best choice for your waistline? Not if you’re opting for hearty cream-based soups such as this clam chowder, which delivers 210 calories per cup (not per can!). Choose a broth-based soup instead, like chunky vegetable for 110 calories less per cup. (photo credit here)
5. Shrink Your Salad. If you think you can’t go wrong with a salad, you might be sabotaging yourself. I’ve found the calorie count in drive-thru grilled chicken salad’s can vary considerably, from a modest 230 calories (before dressing) for McDonald’s Premium Bacon Ranch with Grilled Chicken Salad to an astounding 625 calories (before dressing) on Zaxby’s Grilled House Zalad! It’s all those flavorful add-ons that shoot the numbers way up. Skip the empty calories from the fried onions (110 calories) and butter-topped texas toast (150 calories). Also, be sure to choose a light dressing to reign in the fat or top your salad with salsa for a kick and an extra serving of veggies! Food apps such as Fast Food Calories (iphone) or Fast Food Calorie Lookup (android) can be great resources for keeping nutritional information at your fingertips.
6. Perfect Your Protein Portion. A serving of boneless, skinless chicken breast is about 3-4 ounces, but you’ve probably picked up a package of chicken only to find two huge chicken breasts inside. Does that mean each one is a portion? Hardly. A one-pound package contains about 4 servings, regardless of the number of actual breasts in the package, meaning while you’re only eating one breast, you could be consuming 2 (or more) portions. How do you know how much a portion is without getting out the scale? There’s a simple, fool-proof method that uses a measuring tool you already own – your hands! Your protein portion should be the size and thickness of your palm, which equates to between 100-150 calorie portions for most women. Eat a single portion at dinner and save the second portion for tomorrow’s lunch!
7. Veg-Out to Fill Up. Pasta servings contain around 220 calories per 1 cup serving, so simply swap half a serving of whole grain spaghetti with equal amounts shredded zucchini (at just 10 calories per ½ cup) to save 110 calories! Try using a spiralizer to shred the veggies into spaghetti-like strips or substitute spaghetti squash. Top with your favorite sauce for a simply delicious dinner that doesn’t skimp on flavor! (photo credit here)
8. Make It Tex-Mex. Baked potatoes are diet friendly, but not when they are slathered with butter (100 calories per tablespoon) and sour cream (23 calories per tablespoon). For a satisfying flavor-boost without the calories, trade in those high fat condiments for a tex-mex topping: mix 2 Tbl non-fat greek yogurt with 2 Tbl salsa for only 30 calories! Ole!
9. Go Dark! Skip the vending-machine chocolate candies (which pack about 240 calories per bag), and indulge in one square of dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher) for around 60 calories. Curb your chocolate craving and get a boost of antioxidants that you won’t find in those candy-coated chocolates. (photo credit here)
10. Bag the Chips. Potato chips pack in about 10 calories per chip. So, ditch the chips and get your salty, crunchy fix from natural lightly salted popcorn instead. You’ll only take in about 38 calories per cup (popped), and you’ll add a serving of whole grains to your day!
Dessert & Drinks:
11. Go Bananas. Need a late-night fix that you won’t regret in the morning? Make your own Chocolate-Banana Ice Cream by blending one frozen banana with 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder and a splash of almond milk until creamy. Stir in 1 tsp mini semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 tbsp chopped walnuts. Enjoy this decadent dessert for around 170 calories as opposed to a ½ cup serving of Chunky Monkey Ben & Jerry’s, which will cost you 290 calories. (photo credit here)
12. Get Sex in the City Skinny. Carrie’s favorite cosmopolitan carries around 210 calories per 4 oz serving! Skinnygirl White Cranberry Cosmo gives you all the flavors of the original, but with only half the calories. Cheers to that!