Written by :Elsie Velazquez CPT at Prescription Fitness (CLE,OH)

When you think about cutting calories, losing weight, or clean eating it is easy to picture a life of total deprivation and misery.  Nobody wants to give up all of the foods they love for the sake of being healthier.   Luckily, there are ways around this dilemma.

By making a few food swaps you’ll hardly even notice and making smarter choices, you can probably lose half to a full pound each week.  Small tweaks are more sustainable and therefore much more effective than making huge changes to your diet.  Have you ever noticed how adding just a few handfuls of M&Ms can suddenly cause your pants to feel a bit snug?  Well, the opposite is also true: by cutting back in small ways, you can slim down.

The bottom line is that you won’t lose weight without cutting calories. So think of incorporating some of these food swaps.  You can put a dent in your daily calorie count without sacrificing all that you love.  What do you have to lose?

Stay in instead of eating out. Even if you try to eat healthy at a restaurant, you always end up eating more than you intend to.  Cooking at home will more likely result in a healthier meal.

Eat whole fruit instead of drinking fruit juice. A glass of orange juice contains very little of the pulp or skin from an orange and very little, if any, of the fiber content.  Eat the real thing and get more health benefits and save on calories.

Pan-fry food instead of deep-frying it.  Deep-fried food is unhealthy…no way around that.  If you pan-fry lean protein or veggies in a skillet with a little cooking oil, you will find it is just as tasty.

Use oil and balsamic instead of processed dressings. Most grocery store dressings have tons of ingredients, fat, and calories.  Try lightly dressing your salad with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Choose raw spinach over iceberg lettuce.  Spinach is full of vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, and iron, iceberg lettuce is not!

Substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream. If you like sour cream in your burrito (healthy burrito, of course), top it with a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt instead. More protein, less fat.

Sprinkle cinnamon instead of sugar.   Use cinnamon instead of sugar to boost the flavor of coffee without adding extra calories. Sprinkle it in oatmeal your oatmeal too.

Brown rice is better than white. White rice is stripped of many essential nutrients, like fiber.  Brown rice is not.

Choose whole-wheat pasta. Unlike regular pasta, whole-wheat pasta is filled with antioxidants and fiber.

Eat oatmeal instead of sugary cereal.  Unlike sugary cereal, oatmeal provides heart-healthy benefits.

Use mustard instead of mayo.  Skip the fat-filled mayo for naturally fat-free mustard

Eat raw nuts instead of nut butter. Nut butters contain more fat and sugar than raw nuts. Plus, it’s easy to overdo it on nut butters.

So, instead of making huge changes that you cannot sustain over time, make small changes and you will see the changes in your waistline and overall health.  Happy swapping!