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Making healthy substitutions

By Sonia Salfity , Family Flavours - Feb 25,2024 - Last updated at Feb 25,2024

photo courtesy of Family Flavours magazine

By Sonia Salfity,
Desperate Dieter


One of the best ways we can help ourselves is by making healthy substitutions to our favourite meals. Instead of cutting out all our favourite recipes, we can make a few adjustments that will help us reach our goals.


Gradual change


If we want to have lasting success, we must put in place healthier habits that we can live with for a long period of time. Food and behavioural substitutions will eventually become part of our normal routines.

It’s very important that we don’t make all the changes at once. If we install these substitutions gradually then we will be less likely to reject them; they will become our friends instead of our foes.

Here is a list of substitutions I’ve come up with:

Almond milk: I switched from full cream to almond milk in my coffee. This was probably the hardest

change I’ve ever made and it took all my willpower,  but it was well worth it as it instantly reduced my excess calories and fat. I drink coffee three times a day so this one change made a huge impact. For those who don’t mind black coffee, this is not an issue. The only way I can take it black is if it’s Turkish coffee but my stomach is sensitive to make that my norm

Water: I switched from sodas to water. If you don’t like plain water, jazz it up with a slice of lemon, cucumber or blueberries. I love the smell of rosewater so when I feel like something different, I add a dash of it in my water

Smaller plates: I switched large dinner plates to the 

smaller dessert plates as research has shown that using smaller plates helps us to reduce the amount of food we consume. The trick is that the smaller portions seem normal when you present them in a smaller plate. It’s quite fascinating how easily our minds can be tricked and we will do well to make that work to our advantage!

Measured portions: I switched from trying to guess my portions to actually measuring them. I leave  my measuring cups and tablespoons on my kitchen counter and I always make sure they’re clean so 

there’s no excuse! Our eyes will always deceive us into thinking that was just a quarter cup of nuts we just had when in reality it’s double or triple that amount Olive oil: I switched salad dressings to extra virgin olive oil and lemon or vinegar and try to order the vinaigrette dressing when I’m dining at a restaurant Lettuce wraps: I switched from burger buns to lettuce wraps and enjoy that once in a while burger

without the added starch  Vegetables: I switched from fries to fresh vegetables even when every fibre of my being would rather taste those hot crunchy potatoes that keep calling my name! However, I must confess that now I realise just how much my body needed those veggie-rich nutrients and I learned to crave them.

There’s something very satisfying when we eat foods rich in vitamins and minerals instead of harmful empty calories Smaller meals: I switched from eating one or two large meals a day to eating 6 small ones. This helps me to recharge and never starve. Find what rhythm works for you and ensure not to starve yourself or you’ll eat everything in sight!

A change of heart: Perhaps the most important switch I’ve made is my attitude. I went from “this is way too hard and it’s easier to just give up” to “I can do this, I’m stronger than I thought I was!”  My body loves me and since it’s the only one I have, I’d better take good care of it! That’s the truth for all of us and it will help us to remember this every time we are tempted to consume unhealthy foods or have unhealthy thoughts. Let’s stop entertaining all the excuses we come up with and, instead, let’s be determined to be our own best friend and advocate.

Reprinted with permission from Family Flavours magazine

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