Great Food Substitutions for Any Time of Year

Bariatric patients quickly become familiar with thoughts of things they “can’t” eat, but we want to shift the focus to all of the many things you CAN eat, especially those available all year round. With limited real estate in the stomach, it is important to be aware of eating enough protein throughout the day as well as incorporating delicious, healthy side options as your new pouch allows you to add more to your diet.

Greek Yogurt, Limitless Options

Plain Greek yogurt is one of the most versatile food swaps out there. It is simple, can be savory or sweet, adds protein and fiber, and most people can’t detect the swap in a recipe. Just about anywhere you would use mayonnaise, sour cream, regular yogurt, whipped cream, cream cheese, and sometimes butter, Greek yogurt is a perfect stand in. Try Greek yogurt for ranch dip, homemade pimento cheese, a chili topping, fruit dip, creamy chicken salad – in all kinds of flavor variations, coleslaw, or sauces. Not only does Greek yogurt make an excellent dip, it is also great on its own. Opting for plain, unflavored gives you to option to control what you add.

White Vinegar

So much of the average American’s diet is packed with excess sodium. We love salt, and while a pinch here and there is no problem, most of our food is inundated with it. To get the benefit of flavor without the sodium when cooking, add a splash of white vinegar. It may sound strange, but give it a try!

Get Wild with Noodles

Pasta is lovely, but the nutritional benefits are slim. Opt instead for spiralized or thinly sliced veggies in your next pasta dish. You will get the benefit of more fiber, flavor, and nutrients. This food hack can be applied to many cuisines including your favorite Asian and Italian dishes.

Keep Crunching

Crunchy elements add great texture to many dishes, from croutons on salads to corn strips on chili, but they often pack on the unwanted carbs and sodium, even in seemingly small portions. Get the same satisfying crunch factor in a few ways. Dry roasted nuts, roasted chickpeas, seeds, and raw vegetables can all offer the texture you may be missing. Thinly sliced radishes make a great, and flavorful, addition that might surprise you.

Give up Mayo, We’ve Mustard Up Some Other Options

Mayonnaise or its cousin aioli aren’t the friendliest condiments for your waist. Swapping your go-to spread with yellow or whole grain mustard, which is often zero calorie, can add up. If you’re adding a flavorful spread to your deli meat rollup or low carb wrap, reach for something new. Other creamy condiment alternatives are low calorie spreadable cheese, hummus, or again… Greek yogurt.

Don’t Be Foolish with Fruit

When we mess with fruit, we typically shortchange ourselves of its natural health benefits. This is true for juice, including the fancy cold pressed kind at the gym, and for dried fruits. With juice, the valuable fiber in fruit, which helps keep us fuller longer and improve our gut health, is sacrificed. In a similar fashion, when fruit is dehydrated in raisins or craisins, we condense the amount of sugar naturally found in fruit into a smaller package. It is easier to consume more sugar at once when we make it so easy to eat by the handful. Choosing fruit in its whole form is the best option for balancing the fiber and sugar as well as contributing to your daily water intake and hydration.

Cauliflower Wonders

Cauliflower swaps are amazing. From mashed to riced to pizza crust, it seems that cauliflower can become just about anything. Its mild flavor and diverse skill set makes it an easy swap for many things. Supermarkets often conveniently offer pre-riced cauliflower or even prepared cauliflower options in the freezer section. Outside of swap, cauliflower is wonderful roasted, boiled, grilled, raw or however you want to try it.

Sun’s Out, Buns Out

Burgers are an American staple enjoyed at many celebrations and cookouts throughout the year. Skip the high carb, low nutrition traditional white bread bun and get a little more creative at your next cookout. Using wide lettuce leaves, like those from romaine, iceberg, or bibb, offer a nice barrier between your hands and your burger. So does a bell pepper or mushroom – either option used raw or grilled to your preference. These bun alternatives are gluten free and offer more nutrients and fiber than bread as well as significantly fewer calories.

Keep Fiber in the Game

As we have already mentioned, fiber is an important part of your diet. This is because it offers bulk, which keeps you feeling full but also helps keep your GI system moving efficiently and retaining enough water to keep bowel movements comfortable. The problem is, our more processed, convenient foods often lose their fiber, even in once fiber full foods like oats. When choosing something like oats or looking for a fiber filled whole grain option, look to the label for just one simple ingredient: whole grain. Whole grain indicates that the entire grain is present, not a broken down or dissected version where fiber has been removed. Don’t be fooled by words like “multigrain” as multiple grains do not necessarily mean whole and may mean higher carb with less fiber.

What Do You Swap?

We would love to hear what you swap out in your diet. Sometimes an indulgence is appropriate, but when you can save yourself excess calories and sugar or add in protein, it means you are closer to the target. Share your clever swaps with us on Facebook or contact us so we can share your great ideas with other patients.

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Springhill Medical Center

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Mobile, AL 36608