Healthy Alternative Eating

We’ve all heard of “Alternative Medicine” but today’s tip is about “Alternative Eating”, a concept I spun off from my recent tip “Trade-offs”. Trade-offs is when we choose low fat, low calorie foods to offset the high fat, high calorie foods we eat. This enables us to maintain our weight, and even lose as long as we end up with a deficit in calories on a regular basis. So what do I mean by “Alternative Eating”? .. June M. Lay, Fitness Editor –

Alternative Eating is when we choose a regular way of eating that reduces calories, especially empty calories. We choose it because it’s healthier, because we’re preventing and fighting disease, and because we feel better with more energy. Of course we choose alternative eating because we also want to maintain a healthy weight without dieting. We still implement our trade-offs, but on a daily basis we make alternative choices. These foods are low fat, and less calories from empty sugars. They are nutrient dense, high volume/high fiber foods and they are healthier in general. I’d like to make the analogy that alternative eating is a choice just like the choice to become a vegetarian is. It is a conscious lifestyle choice, but let me also say that it’s not about perfection!

How do we practice Alternative Eating? Let’s


Healthy Alternative Eating

Choose Grilled instead of Fried or Sauteed. When we choose to have our food grilled (not charred!) we save hundreds of calories from oil or butter. Even if we use the healthy fat olive oil, we still take in a lot of fat calories because calorie wise, “A Fat is a Fat”. Let’s not forget the other options of steamed, broiled, and poached. We can serve the sauce on the side and enjoy the taste with less calories.

Choose Lean Meats and Fish. When we choose to eat mostly skinless boneless chicken or turkey breast, fish and shellfish, we save calories, and save fat (and the fat in fish is the healthier kind called polyunsaturated). If we remember another tip “The Smart Grill”, we also protect ourselves from those tasty but harmful chemicals that are formed when we grill high fat meats.

Choose Fats and Sugars Wisely. Both fat and sugar are necessary nutrients, but let’s be choosy most of the time. Let’s choose monounsaturated fats to cook with, and dress our salads with (olive/canola oils). Let’s choose to eat foods high in the polyunsaturated fats known as the Omega 3’s (salmon and other cold water fish) along with Avocado’s, and nuts (to control my portion of nuts, I sprinkle a few diced nuts in my salad). Lastly, when we choose to eat foods high in natural sugars such as fruits and non fat dairy products, we feed our body the sugar it needs along with other vital nutrients (can’t say that a candy bar has vitamin C, fiber or calcium, can we?).

Choose High Volume. When we choose to eat a large amount of salad greens, vegetables and whole fruits, we not only get full, we get healthy eating lots of nutrients and we get lean. I also like to suggest nutrient dense condiments and toppings (for example, let’s try non fat cottage cheese, black beans and salsa in our baked potato instead of butter and sour cream; mustard instead of mayo or half mayo/half mustard; chicken stock instead of oil when we bake or saute; or we can flavor our steamed foods including Chinese, with chicken broth and save hundreds of calories, sodium and saturated fat).

Choose a Treat a Day! Okay, this isn’t really part of alternative eating, but for me and most of my clients, making a treat a day a part of regular eating gives us the incentive to begin. Many people appear surprised when I tell them that my treat is a non fat frozen yogurt topped with a crumbled cookie, tsp of chocolate syrup and a dollop of a low fat dairy frozen topping (restricting ourselves totally isn’t fun, is it?). I look forward to my treat, and I save hundreds of calories every day from making alternative choices (I do stick to the 10% rule on a regular basis which is about 200 calories a day for a non nutrient dense type treat).

Alternative eating may not be a new way of eating, but if we think of it as an “alternative” rather than dieting, we just might get started. And whether we choose to practice one or more of the above alternatives on a daily basis, we’ll be on our way to improving our health (and we might just lose a few pounds too).

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