I will start everything off by saying that I don't believe in diets. They may work for a time but as soon as you stop them, the majority of people will gain weight back and even then some. What I do believe in is eating right. I lived my whole life (except the last year or so) fighting what I knew was true in my head because I didn't want to give up what I put in my mouth. I knew that if I gave up eating crap and started exercising then I wouldn't be fighting the weight battle anymore but I liked my large quantities, I liked my junk food, I liked convenient foods prepared for me, and most importantly, I wanted to have it all and be the weight that I wanted with minimum effort on exercise. Isn't that what most of us want and hope for? It is this unrealistic desire that companies who sell supplements, exercise equipment, and "wonder products" make ridiculous amounts of money from.
So, as a person who was gaining weight, unhappy with my body, had no money for magic pills or gym memberships, I knew what I had to do and knew it wouldn't cost me a dime. I had to workout and get moving every day, I had to eat foods that I knew were healthy, and I needed to cut the foods that I knew were bad. The diet industry would go bankrupt and shrivel up if everyone did this, but it's not easy and that's why we desperately try to cut corners and tell ourselves that it's still ok to do the unhealthy things we do as there are products out there to take care of it.
Right, so now I am ranting a bit. Can you tell how much I hate the weight loss industry??? Anyway, one thing I have done is gotten rid of a lot of crap in my diet and I have to say, my food is so much better tasting that it was before! Who knew eating healthy food would be better?!? I am also not concerned about my weight anymore and have found joy and peace in my body knowing that I am taking care of it in a healthy way so I should love it because now it is a healthy body. Also the inches are slipping away slowly so that is also a bonus! (of course all the free workout videos from Youtube is helping with that!) So without further ado or ranting, here are some things that I have gotten rid of and substituted with healthier, and tastier options:
*Also note that I not a dietitian and just a regular person with the general knowledge of what is bad for you and what is good for you.
Gotten Rid of: Potatoes
Why: I don't do well with starchy foods, and unless you keep the peels on, potatoes aren't the most beneficial substance in the veg world.
Substituted with: Sweet Potatoes
Why: They have so much more flavor, are much healthier than regular potatoes, and I can use them for everything I would use regular potatoes for...even oven baked fries!
Gotten Rid of: White Rice
Why: Again, it is starchy and does nothing for me. I also don't really like it as I find it boring and just 'waters down' the taste of what I'm eating it with.
Substituted with: Quinoa
Why: It is so tasty, has a great rice-ish texture, and is a great source of protein. It doesn't 'water down' the food I eat it with and it keeps me full for longer.
Gotten Rid of: Store bought salad dressings
Why: They are full of sugar, fat, salt, and preservatives. They make your salad unhealthy.
Substituted with: Homemade salad dressing
Why: I know what is in it which doesn't include sugar and preservatives. It is super easy and quick to make and tastes a lot better too! We make not only the typical balsamic vinaigrette dressing but also honey mustard, and our own ranch (without using a ranch dressing mix which is not that great for you either).
Gotten Rid of: Store bought soups
Why: Like salad dressings, these can have extra sugars, loads of salt, and preservatives. Plus, I don't trust the meat to be real or the veg to fresh.
Substituted with: Homemade soups
Why: Again, having the power to control what goes into my own food is huge in keeping myself healthy! Some soups can be time consuming, but for the most part, they are easy to make, have way less salt, and all the fresh ingredients I want to put in! One of my favorite quick soups is tomato soup. I use a non BPA lined can of chopped tomatoes (and all that is in the ingredients are tomatoes and water), heat it up on the stove and throw in a low sodium, organic stock cube of my choice (either veg, beef, or tomato are my favorites) some dried basil, black pepper, and viola! You can take a hand blender, use a regular blender, or I just use my potato masher since I like some texture, but it's so tasty and I have soup in about 15 mins.
Gotten Rid of: Pasta
Why: It is starchy and doesn't sit well with me. Plus I find it also "waters down" the flavors of my sauce and veggies like rice.
Substituted with: Zucchini (or courgette if you are where I am)
Why: Zucchini pasta is so tasty! I just take a potato peeler to it and shave pasta like strips off until I get to the core (which I chop up and throw in to the pasta). It cooks up in minutes, tastes so much better, and is way healthier than starchy noodles. Plus it doesn't "water down" the flavor either.
Gotten Rid of: Store bought pasta sauce
Why: Sugar, salt, and preservatives
Substituted with: Homemade pasta sauce
Why: Eating stuff from a jar now is sickeningly sweet and so not as tasty as what I can make! I control what goes in my red sauce pastas and I don't use any sugar! I don't need to. Making my own sauce is easy and extremely delicious. I occasionally will make white sauces too but I usually use chicken stock and plain yogurt.
Gotten Rid of: Ice Cream
Why: It's pretty easy to know why this isn't healthy! Cream, sugar, and store bought stuff has all sorts of other crap in it.
Substituted with: Frozen bananas!
Why: By freezing chunks of frozen bananas and simply putting them into a food processor, I can have soft serve ice cream without all the sugar, fat, or guilt! I can even customize it in ways that helps whatever flavor I'm craving. My favorite is with unsweetened cocoa powder and a bit of peanut butter...mmmm! Satisfying and healthy!
Gotten Rid of: Pizza
Why: It is high in fat, carbs, salt, and lots of other processed crap.
Substituted with: Whole wheat tortilla based pizzas you make yourself
Why: I will admit that we actually don't eat the substitute at all anymore but if we get a big pizza hankering (which they do go away!) this was a really tasty way to have it. Using the whole wheat tortillas as a base cuts the carbs way back, and then we made our own pizza sauce (very much like how we make our red pasta sauce) and put on our own toppings and cheese. We control the quantity and it is just so much better than frozen pizza!
Gotten Rid of: Pork sausages and bacon
Why: High in fat
Substituted with: Turkey sausages
Why: Bacon has been cut completely from our diet (yes, I heard all those gasps!) but seriously we don't miss it. Our turkey sausages come from a local butcher who makes them nearby. Turkey is much healthier and it actually can have a ton of flavor.
Gotten Rid of: Using a lot of butter and olive oil
Why: Butter is only healthy if used in small quantities and I find olive oil to leave greasy residue.
Substituted with: Goose or duck fat
Why: Goose and duck fat, although high in fat, can actually lower your cholesterol and is fantastic to cook with. I have a recipe I make all the time that would use about a tablespoon of olive oil and we always found there to be an oily residue. When I swapped to goose fat, I actually use less (about a teaspoon) as it goes farther, and it blended in with the dish and didn't leave a greasy residue! Now I use it for soups, casseroles, and anything I can think of! I do buy mine from a local butcher so I know it doesn't have a bunch of crap in it and is just pure goose fat (or duck fat, depending on what they have in).
Gotten Rid of: Sugar substitutes
Why: There have been plenty enough studies done that have shown these to be horrible for you!
Substituted with: Honey or I just use regular sugar
Why: Anytime I can use honey instead of sugar, that is my instant solution. However, I know that sometimes I can't avoid it so if I have to use sugar, I'll use sugar. It may not be perfect, but it is still better than those chemically crazy sugar substitutes. The good thing is that now you can just hit up the old search engine for any tasty dessert dish you could desire and find out how to make it with honey, maple syrup, or some other healthier form of sugar. This is one of my absolute favorite new dessert recipes and it's versatile and tasty!
Flourless Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondie
Gotten Rid of: Cream
Why: It is so high in fat that the allowance of what you should eat in a day is too minuscule to what you would actually use
Substituted with: Milk (for coffee) or canned coconut milk (for whipped cream)
Why: You can have more milk in your day than you can cream so it makes more sense to put that in your coffee instead. I've actually found cream in coffee to be more of an American thing as I have never seen it over here and everyone just does milk. I adjusted to just milk really easily and then my coffee doesn't have to be a stumbling block of sugar and extra fat as a start to my day. Also using the solids in canned coconut milk is a tasty way to make whipped cream and you don't have to feel as guilty.
Gotten Rid of: Breakfast cereals or granola bars
Why: These usually have lots of sugars in them
Substituted with: Homemade smoothies, eggs, or whole wheat peanut butter toast
Why: I love homemade smoothies and my favorite at the moment is 1 avocado, 3 or 4 pears, 2 frozen bananas, dash of vanilla, and a bit of milk. (this is breakfast enough for 2 people!) This is like having a sweet vanilla milkshake for breakfast! Branden is also the king of making eggs so if he's around in the mornings, he will make a killer scramble, omelette, or fried eggs for us. If I am lazy then whole wheat toast with a smear of peanut butter is a great way to get me to eat in the morning, and our peanut butter doesn't have much sugar in it either.
I know I must have more, and I definitely have lots of recipes I could share from any of these so let me know if you are curious about any of them! I will do my best with sharing my recipes, as I don't measure anything out and am mostly a 'go by taste' chef. This may seem like a lot and be overwhelming but if you really are interested, I'd suggest just taking one or a few of these and trying to implement them in your every day life. Once you get comfortable in making them and taste how much better they are, you can build up the confidence to try others or find ways to make healthier, tastier substitutions in your life! I'm always looking for new substitutions in mine! Any way to get healthier!