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Five Food Swaps to Keep You on Track

Photo by Nicole D’Costa

With the upcoming holiday season, people tend to get off track with their fitness goals because they’re surrounded by colder weather and tempting treats. But substituting simple ingredients in your everyday life can help you stay on track with your fitness journey and lead you to a healthier lifestyle.

1. Greek yogurt instead of sour cream

Many of us love to use sour cream in different dishes such as tacos and dips. By substituting sour cream for greek yogurt, you’ll be increasing your protein while decreasing the number of calories you consume. The flavor difference isn’t too noticeable, so you’ll be able to make this swap, and it won’t have a huge impact on the delicious meals you love to eat. I recommend Fage or Chobani plain greek yogurt. 

2. Flavored seltzers instead of sugary juices

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Drinking your calories is something that many people often overlook when making dietary changes to their lifestyle. A lot of times, drinks are empty calories and by reducing the calories you consume from drinks, you’ll be able to use those calories for food that will keep you more full. Juices from the grocery store are loaded with sugar that most people don’t even realize. By switching to flavored seltzers such as La Croix or Hint, you’ll still have a fruity flavor to your drink but for zero calories and no sugar.

Ally Kardash, a sophomore whose major is undecided, thinks a flavored seltzer is a much better alternative to a sugary juice.

“La Croix has no sugar or anything in it, so I would much rather drink it over regular juice,” said Kardas.

3. Protein pasta instead of regular white pasta

Just because you choose to live a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to completely cut off yummy foods like pasta. Regular white pasta is refined, and the body breaks it down into glucose quickly. By adding chickpea or red lentil pasta to your diet, you will increase the amount of protein in your diet, keeping you more full for longer and making your meal more balanced. Also, vegans or vegetarians get little to no protein from animal sources, so adding more protein through pasta will help you get enough protein in your diet. 

4. Halo Top instead of regular ice cream

Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash 

Who doesn’t love ice cream? As I said before, eating healthier doesn’t mean you can’t eat the foods you love or crave. Regular ice cream is very high in calories and has crazy amounts of sugar. Many people don’t look at serving sizes and can just sit in front of the couch and devour a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. But they don’t realize that one serving of ice cream is half a cup, or one fourth of an entire pint of ice cream. This small serving can be anywhere from 250-300 calories. By swapping regular ice cream for lower calorie ice creams such as Halo Top, you’ll be able to eat a lot more for the same amount or less calories. An entire pint of Halo Top is around 280-360 calories, keeping serving sizes at 70-90 calories. Halo Top also has more protein than regular ice cream and lower sugars. It also comes in a variety of delicious flavors such as birthday cake and chocolate almond crunch.

Nadine Sahyoun, a University of Maryland nutritional epidemiology professor, said it’s important to keep track of portion sizes. 

“Sometimes a food label may show the calorie content for half a bag but the person will consume a whole bag and so over consume calories. One way to keep track of what one eats is to keep portions adequate and not over consume,” Sahyoun said.

5. Powdered peanut butter instead of regular peanut butter

Many people see peanut butter as healthy. While it’s a great source of healthy fats, when trying to be aware of your caloric intake, it can mislead people who aren’t aware of serving sizes. Just two tablespoons of peanut butter is nearly 200 calories, while powdered peanut butter is an option with half the amount of calories and lower fat. Two tablespoons of powdered peanut butter does only make one tablespoon of spreadable peanut butter, so you would need four tablespoons of powdered peanut butter which is around 90 calories. I recommend PB2 as a great alternative, and if you’re not a fan of peanut butter, PB2 also has powdered almond butter. Just mix it with a little bit of water, and you have an even healthier option for an already healthy spread. 

Sophie Bruskof, a sophomore business major, has been using PB2 instead of regular peanut butter for months. 

“I love PB2. I don’t even notice a difference in taste, and it’s a great lower calorie alternative to regular peanut butter to add on toast or even to smoothies,” said Bruskof. 

By making these simple swaps to your diet, you can still enjoy the foods you love, just healthier alternatives of them. You’ll be able to eat more food for the same amount of calories, or the same amount of food for less calories. Eating healthy shouldn’t be a chore, and you’ll barely notice a difference in taste with these swaps.

Nicole D'Costa

Maryland '22

I am a sophomore journalism major at UMD!
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