Weight Management: Substitutions--Less in, Part 3

Okay, with portion control letting us eat what we want and with good selection practices helping cut back on Calorie intake, we are well on the way to managing our weight. So far, not so bad, right?

That's why I am totally convinced that this Reasonable Fitness approach works. It isn't terrible. By being intentional about balancing our favorite foods--in reasonable quantities--with good selections of other foods, we can sustain a lifestyle that leads to managed weight.

In this section, we wrap up the less-in tactics. Here, we are going to adopt the idea of picking good substitutions to fill in the gaps.

Snacks are realities of life that can wreck our best weight management plans. They are going to be a big focus for the concept of substitutions.

Essentially, we want to eat and feel full. Some nutrition sources say that our bodies are better suited to grazing throughout the day than they are to three squares a day. Snack foods fill in that natural tendency.

However, snack foods also tend to be low in nutrition (leading to on-going hunger) and high in Calories. What we need is to bring in the substitutes.

Many times, we find ourselves eating because we are hungry, but having a relaxing, well-planned meal is just not in the schedule. I call this utility eating. We eat because we need food, but under no circumstances is it going to be the perfect meal. We grab something at the convenience store, or snatch something out of or pantry, eat it, and go on.

These utility meals can be subjected to the principles of substitution quite easily! Why burn 500 or 600 Calories on a meal you are going to just wolf down and go? What if you could fill up on 350 or 400 Calories instead? Principles of substitution will allow this to happen, and later, when you have time to savor it, you can have that delicious, slightly more caloric meal.

We need to come to grips with the idea of empty Calories. Some foods we eat have little or no nutritional value, other than supplying energy. While not entirely excluded from Reasonable Fitness, they are dangerous. You can bump out room for truly good foods that are also good for you by taking in empty Calories.

Non-diet sodas are HUGE sources of empty Calories. Most sports drinks and energy drinks are very, very high in Calories and provide few other nutrients. There is very little room for these in your diet. Sorry. But when you consider that a can of soda is the Caloric equivalent to a third of a descent meal, you will see that there is just no room. Ask yourself--would you really rather have two sodas or a steak and a salad?

Avoiding empty Calories, then calls for a substitution of something. How about water? How about, if you must, zero Calorie drinks?

Snacks not only include beverages. Every convenience store I know of is packed full of snack foods. Some of these are less filling than others. Some are all but void of nutritional value. We have to be intentional about snacking or we will end up at dinner time having a bowl of oatmeal and calling it a day.  If we substitute lower Calorie choices throughout the day, we can save up Calories that we can use to enjoy a social evening meal or just not take in.

Back when I was wearing the extra 60 pounds, candy bars were pretty regular parts of my routine. At 250 plus Calories each, I was quickly hitting my max daily allowed Calorie limit. And 250 Calories is a conservative estimate for the not-king-sized bars!

Watch the sodium, but granola bars offer
some nutritional value in reasonable,
Calorie servings that are filling and tasty.

Remember to take small bites, chew slowly,
and swallow before taking second bite!
You can get 4, 5, 6, or more little bites
out of such a snack, and doing so will
help your body feel satisfied.
On the other hand, there are a lot of granola type bars--the soft, chewy kind--that feel like a candy bar, are essentially sweet, and come in under 200 Calories. Many can be found at the 90 Calorie mark. (Count it as 100 for easy math!)

By substituting these healthier, lower Calorie options, over a week, many, many Calories were saved.

While talking about Granola bars... How about the 200 Calorie bar and a piece of fruit (another 100 or so Calories) instead of the 650 Calorie muffin, egg, cheese, and sausage sandwich from the gas station? That's 350 Calories saved by substitution!

If you want to get hard core and go really low, how about a 100-150 Calorie banana instead of the 200 Calorie granola bar? Maybe not every time, but every Calorie saved...

From the "green means go" principle, a lot of substitutions can be implemented. Pick something green instead of the fries or baked potato. Pick the BAKED potato over the FRIED one, at least! How about a side salad instead of something higher in Calories?

Instead of that designer coffee with the double whip, double blended, double espresso... whatever... instead of THAT, how about a cup of regular coffee? Instead of adding cream and sugar, drink it black--become a coffee purist and annoy all your friends by making fun of the way they "ruin" their coffee.

Instead of the non-diet soda, go for juice. Same calories, but much more nutritious! Or go with water!  If you can back out 200 Calories from your intake by changing your beverage, you can have rolls with your dinner--split a small dessert with someone.

Turkey on a deli roll with celery bits as a side.
Celery--crunches like chips, but better for you!
Instead of a sandwich and chips, how about some substitutions? Try a low-fat tortilla and make your sandwich into a wrap? Same insides, but about 100 Calories less without the two slices of bread. Instead of chips, how about carrot or celery sticks?

Instead of a big, heavy, 700 Calorie breakfast at 8:00 and then lunch at noon, what if you took 600 of the Calories and spread them out over the morning? Start with a 200 Calorie bowl of oatmeal at 8:00. Have a 100 Calorie banana or apple at 9:00. Knock down a 200 Calorie protein bar at 10:00. Do you have room for a 100 Calorie cup of snack crackers now at 11:00?  Not only have you saved 100 Calories, you are probably less hungry at noon and can be more moderate with your selections for lunch! While grazing does not work for everyone, with a little planning and packing from home, many people can pull it off.

Instead of a carbohydrate, substitute a protein of the same Calorie count. Proteins tend to create the sensation of being full for a longer period of time. Google this, if you need proof or more explanation.

The list of substitutions could go on and on! The principle is to find lower Calorie, more filling foods and to substitute them for times when you are just eating to eat. In doing this, you fill less hungry and end up with somewhat better--by virtue of your intentionality--nutrition.

Anyone who is planning the lifelong management of weight needs to find some go-to foods that are satisfying and filling. For many years, bananas were that food for me. They have a lot of bulk and fill me up nicely. I like the taste, too. Depending on the size, they are about 100 Calories, but if they were really jumbo, I'd call them 150.  I'd have a banana with breakfast and sometimes another (or others!) during the day as a snack.

What will your go-to food be? A cup of yogurt (about 100 Calories)? Carrot sticks? Celery sticks?

In order to enjoy the quality of life we want to have--including dining for pleasure--we have to make sure that we are not using up all our allowed intake for  snacking and utility eating. By substituting some--perhaps--less desirable foods at those times, we free ourselves up to partake of the more savory, often more caloric, foods when we can truly enjoy them.

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