I started dieting 18 months ago. In the first year, I didn’t lose much. I cut calories but was still hungry. My problem was bread; it’s filling but highly caloric. I won’t cut grains completely. Instead, my strategy is to “tweak.” Here are bread, starch and grain switches to cut calories, get full and eat healthier.
* Switch to “ancient grains.” These include: quinoa, barley, kamut, millet, spelt, rye, buckwheat and aramanth. Six Wise lists the health benefits of these grains. Use these grains in bread-making, pancakes and flatbreads. Livestrong gives recipes for using ancient grains in bread machines.
* Switch from rice to couscous. Couscous has the same amount of calories as white rice and less than brown rice. But it has more protein and is more filling. The Daily Mail lists couscous as one of the eight top foods to help you lose weight.
* Beware of flatbread. Flatbreads, tortillas, matzo, naan, lavash and wraps aren’t created equal. Read the nutrition data. Flatbread is denser and often has more calories than slice bread. Choose thin pizza crust over thick.
* Do the fiber-protein to salt-sugar ratio. Read the bread content to make sure that you’re getting a good amount of fiber and protein to counteract calorie, sodium and sugar content.
* Avoid breads with HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). Breads shouldn’t contain high amounts of sugar. Best sweeteners are honey, molasses and evaporated cane juice.
* Switch bread. Several bread brands make a light 35-calorie-per-slice bread. This is usually white or potato bread. I want bread with high fiber and better nutrient content, so I opt for the whole grain or whole wheat variety with 40 calories per slice. Either way, you’re cutting at least half the calories of regular bread. Make sandwiches with half a pita pocket (70 calories).
* Switch to whole wheat bagels. Bagels are high-fiber, high-protein bread options. Most are high in calories, too. Whole wheat or plain bagels usually have about 100 calories less than other bagels. I cut portion size, too. Now I eat half a bagel or one mini bagel.
* Switch potatoes. Instead of breaded, fried or mashed potatoes, I eat baked potatoes dressed with olive oil margarine and yogurt (instead of butter and sour cream). I also eat sweet potatoes and squash instead of rice or potatoes. I don’t cut calories, but I feel fuller and get more vitamin A.
* Swap tortillas for lettuce. Tortillas are high in calories, especially if you eat several tacoes. Wrap burrito or taco filling in rinsed romaine or leaf lettuce.
Using these food swaps, I cut about 500 calories a day.