Simple Substitutions

Unless you make fried chicken for every meal you cook, chances are the foods you cook yourself are healthier than the foods you buy in a restaurant. Did you know that 96% of all entrees offered in restaurants exceed the national dietary guidelines? It is very difficult to eat out and be healthy at the same time, but there are several simple substitutes you can make that will make it a bit easier.

Substitute #1: Lite vs. Regular Salad Dressings

Salads regularly have more fat grams than even a cheeseburger because of high-fat dressings. Always get your dressing on the side, because less dressing can fit in that small container than the amount of dressing would be poured over the top of your salad. Try substituting lite or low-fat versions of your favorite dressings for their full-fat options. Ask your server if you can just have olive oil on the side, and then drizzle it on your salad with some salt and pepper for a healthy-fat alternative. And if you just can’t do without the blue cheese, dip your fork into your dressing and then use your fork to get some of your salad so you get the flavor but keep the amount to a minimum.

Substitute #2: Baked vs. Fried

Fried foods have more fat and calories than baked, grilled, steamed, or broiled food. When you have a choice between crispy chicken or grilled chicken, go with grilled, and if there isn’t a choice listed, ask your waiter if you can have a broiled version instead. This applies to vegetables and other side items too! A baked potato has fewer calories than French fries, steamed broccoli has fewer calories that stir-fried broccoli, and the list goes on. Check out the resources bar at the side to learn more about different cooking methods.

Substitute #3: Broth-Based Soups vs. Cream-Based Soups

Non-fat and 1% milk are good for you, but the heavy cream that’s used as a base for a creamy soups and sauces is much higher in saturated fat than a broth-based soup or a vegetable-based sauce. Order French onion instead of cream of broccoli soup and marinara or Marsala sauces instead of Alfredo or cheese sauces on your pasta.

Substitute #4: Whole Grain vs. White

The calorie counts in whole grain versus white breads are actually pretty similar. The difference comes in how full you’ll feel after you eat each type of bread. Because whole grains have more fiber, your body will take longer to digest them than they would take to digest refined grains. If you have brown rice instead of white or whole-wheat bread instead of white bread, you’ll likely be able to put off an afternoon snack without feeling hungry.