Sometimes weight loss can be as simple as small, everyday changes we make to the foods (food hacks) we choose. Here are a few of my favorite food hacks to lose weight–simple shifts that can save you 100 calories or more. Add that 100 calories a day up over a year and you just might lose 10 pounds without even really thinking about it!
- Spice it Up! Try hot sauce instead of cheese on your eggs. Hot sauce doesn’t have any calories AND the spicy flavor will help with satiety.
- Opting for waffles, toast or pancakes? Opt for berries instead of syrup. Place berries (your choice) in a container and microwave at 50% power until warm, mash slightly with a fork, and pour over your breakfast. Not only will you save calories, you will up the nutrition and fiber (yeah!), with less of an impact on blood sugar levels.
- Are you an oatmeal lover? Choose your toppings wisely here, too. Berries work on oatmeal, too. I like to use frozen mixed berries, place them in the fridge or on the counter for a few minutes to let them soften (you can microwave, these, also). Top your oatmeal with the berries for the most flavor bang, instead of stirring them in as they cook.
- Picking up your favorite non-fat latte? Think carefully about your order. Swap black coffee with a splash of half and half to save approximately 100 calories, reduce your carbohydrates and sugar. Notice I only asked you to think carefully about your order. You will also miss out on protein from the milk–which will help you feel fuller longer.
- Choose mustard or greek yogurt instead of mayo on sandwiches or dips. You can enjoy a variety of flavors with mustard (even if you don’t like plain yellow), and many contain only 10 calories per serving–versus 90 – 100 calories per tablespoon of mayonnaise. Ounce for ounce, greek yogurt can lower the fat and calories while upping the protein. Not a fan of mustard or greek yogurt? Try blending the mustard or yogurt into the mayonnaise so you use less, gradually increasing the ratios to eliminate the mayo altogether.
- Speaking of greek yogurt…use greek yogurt in place of sour cream. Anywhere you want that light taste of creaminess will do–tacos, chilis, you name it.
- Salads are great, but the toppings can be a problem. Swap fresh berries for dried fruits, and make your own simple salad dressings. Vinegar and oil (used sparingly) is the simplest, or mix Dijon or whole grain mustard with low-fat kefir or red wine vinegar and garlic. Wellness Mama has great dressing recipes here that will save you calories, sugar and money–you probably have most of the ingredients in your kitchen already.
- Replace white pasta with spaghetti squash. I know, the first time I heard this one, I cringed. And then I tried it. Of course, I had to clean out the microwave first, since I overcooked the spaghetti squash and it exploded. Learn from my mistake! Pierce the spaghetti squash multiple times with a fork to release steam. Place in the microwave and cook 5 minutes. Continue to cook in 2 minute increments until the squash pierces easily with a fork. Allow the squash to rest 5 minutes. Slice in half, scoop out the seeds, and use a fork to “shred” the squash. Cooking the squash will take approximately the same amount of time as boiling the water and cooking pasta, but will save you approximately 160 calories AND add lots of Vitamin A and C as well as fiber.
- Use an oil mister instead of pouring directly from the bottle. Even though olive oil is a healthy oil, portion control is important (one tablespoon of olive oil can contain 120 calories, and 15 grams of fat). The mister will save you calories and fat, allow more even distribution of oil on your pan or food, and cost less than buying spray oils in the store.
- Choose Club soda instead of soda, wine or mixed drinks. Club soda has the same sparkling quality as regular sodas without the fat, carbs, sugar or artificial sweeteners. Club soda makes a great mixer for mixed drinks–swapping club soda for cranberry juice in a drink can save you 140 calories per drink! Want a special beverage but not the calories? Pour the club soda into a nice wine glass, add some fruit, and enjoy!
Once you start looking for these easy food hacks, you’ll be amazed at the ways you can save calories, fat, carbs and sugar with very little effort and without resorting to “diet” or processed products. If you have some favorite food hacks I missed, include them below!