When it comes to weight loss, slow and steady wins the race. "While complete diet makeovers can be overwhelming, focusing on small simple changes makes healthy eating more manageable and sustainable over the long term," Kelly Pritchett, RD, PhD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics said.
Instead of throwing your kitchen, eating habits, and sanity upside down, focus on making these simple food swaps suggested by Pritchett, as well as Tracee Yablon Brenner, RD and CEO of Real Food Moms, and Kimberly Gomer, a registered dietitian at Pritikin Longevity Center. These swaps will save you calories and help you slim down.
Instead of: Granola
Eat this: Oatmeal
The body benefit: A half-cup cooked serving of Quaker Steel Cut Oats contains just 150 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, and 1 gram of sugar. Sprinkling 10 fresh blueberries onto your oatmeal adds natural sweetness for just 8 calories. Meanwhile, a half-cup of Quaker's Apple, Cranberry, & Almond Granola clocks in at 200 calories, 5 grams of fat, and a whopping 13 grams of sugar—and that's before you add any milk.
Instead of: Tomato-basil soup
Eat this: Broth-based minestrone
The body benefit: Don't let the word "tomato" fool you. It's so thick because it's full of heavy cream, and a serving can set you back nearly 500 calories. Stick with broth-based soups with chunks of vegetables you can actually sink your teeth into, like this tomato soup recipe, which is just 129 calories per serving.
Instead of: White pasta
Eat this: Spaghetti squash
The body benefit: Automatically make your pasta a veggie-filled one with this low-cal, high-fiber replacement. In addition to saving you close to 200 calories, the squash's generous helpings of vitamin C, folate, and magnesium will increase your energy.
Instead of: Hummus and toasted pita
Eat this: Hummus and red pepper
The body benefit: Pita loves to masquerade as a healthy snack, but nutritionally it's not that different than white bread, and no one's calling that a health food. Trade in the enormous amounts of sodium (one serving has about 13% of your recommended daily intake) and munch on some equally crunchy—and much more flavorful—red pepper slices. Red peppers are packed with fiber as well as vitamins A, C, and K, and you'll save about 135 calories.
Instead of: Mashed potatoes
Eat this: Mashed cauliflower
The body benefit: The skinny starch delivers almost a day's worth of vitamin C for the small price of 27 calories per cup. (Compare that to potatoes, which clock in at 116 calories per cup.)
Instead of: Sour cream
Eat this: Greek yogurt
The body benefit: Plain Greek yogurt and sour cream are so similar in taste and texture that you really have no excuse not to use the lean, protein-packed alternative to fattening sour cream. As a fajita-topper, sauce base, or chip dip, a dollop of Greek yogurt can save you 20-plus grams of saturated fat while more than doubling your protein intake.
Instead of: Ice cream
Eat this: Frozen banana
The body benefit: Replacing a huge splurge with fruit is a win-win. You not only sidestep tons of sugar, but you score plenty of potassium, folate, and vitamin C. If you have a few minutes, you can even throw the banana in the food processor to give it the same creamy, spoon-able texture as your favorite soft serve.