10 easy food swaps that’ll help you lose weight in 2021

Feeling a bit sluggish? Dietitian Melissa Meier shares her top 10 healthy food swaps to help you feel lighter and ready to take on 2021 – with no deprivation in sight!

Have you declared 2021 the year to achieve your weight loss goals? Before you jump on the latest fad diet bandwagon, here’s my dietitian-approved weight loss advice, summarised into six short words: slow and steady wins the race.

You see, losing weight (and keeping it off, for good) is not about a quick fix. Instead, it’s about implementing healthy habits that’ll stick around long term, leaving you feeling lighter over time and anything but deprived. To give you a helping hand, here are ten easy food swaps I’d recommend to get started on your healthy weight loss journey.

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1. Tame your sweet tooth with cinnamon

A little bit of sugar here and there mightn’t seem like a big deal, but the reality is, it can really add up. If you’re the type of person to add sugar to cereal, tea and coffee – a swap for cinnamon could be a good idea. Per teaspoon, it’ll save you 20 calories.

2. Swap mayo for yoghurt

Mayonnaise is energy-dense, thanks to oil being a key ingredient. A lighter option is yoghurt – and the best part is, with a little mustard, herbs and lemon juice, it actually makes for a delicious condiment in its own right.

3. Go for a leaner cut

Meat and three veg is a standard dinner for many, but the type of meat you choose plays a big role in the healthfulness of the meal. A 100g fully-trimmed rump steak, for example, contains around 120 calories, whereas an untrimmed version packs 195 calories.

4. Opt for fruit-infused water over flavoured drinks

Juice, soft drink and cordial not only contain unnecessary calories, but unnecessary added sugars, too. Plain water should always be your sip of choice – it is calorie-free and oh-so-good for you. If it just doesn’t cut it, try infusing your water with berries or citrus for a little flavour.

5. Experiment with spritzers

Another one the on beverages bandwagon, this one relates to your go-to alcoholic sips. You might be surprised to learn that alcohol is seriously calorie-heavy, so one of my favourite tricks is to lighten the load by mixing it 50/50 with soda water.

6. Try reduced-fat dairy

A simple swap from full cream to reduced fat can really pay off if you’re big on dairy. A cup of full cream milk, for example, contains around 170 calories, while the same quantity of reduced-fat contains just 115 calories.

7. Add zoodles to your pasta dishes

This tip has nothing to do with avoiding pasta like many diets suggest and everything to do with making pasta-based meals a little more balanced. Simply combine one cup of cooked pasta with one cup of zoodles and voila – you’ve got a lighter, veggie-packed base for your favourite pasta sauce.

8. Choose roasted chickpeas over chips

A sneaky packet of chips or pretzels might seem harmless – and of course, if only consumed every now and then, it is. But if a bag of chips is a daily habit, it’s not doing your waistline any favours. Enter: store-bought roasted chickpeas. Good for you – tick. Delicious – tick.

9. Downsize your treats

All foods belong in a healthy, balanced diet – but striking the right balance can be hard. Instead of buying a block and devouring it over a few days, try a small chocolate bar once a week instead.

10. DIY muesli

There are many cereals on supermarket shelves that get my tick of approval, but there are also many that do not. So, I’m a big advocate for making your own at home using humble everyday ingredients like rolled oats, nuts and seeds. That way, you can control everything that goes in – and skip the added sugars and oils that make some store-bought varieties very calorie-dense.

Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.

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