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Low Calorie Substitutions for High Calorie Cravings: Eat This, Not That!

We've all been there. You know what I'm talking about -- those days when the only appetizing meal is the Double Double from In-n-Out or the Grande Nachos Supreme from Taco Bell, topped off with a shake from Baskin Robins! Okay, we'll maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but my point is simple: we all enjoy an indulgent meal every now and then.


However, what happens when that every now and then turns into every single night. Yep, exactly, it's a no-win situation for any of us. Thus, it's time you hear from a professional what some R.D.-approved options are for when those decadent cravings hit. It's better to be prepared and plan ahead than leave the planning to the 30 seconds before you're ordering off the drive-thru menu, right?

Okay, now that we're on the same page, check out my list of "Eat This, Not That" when it comes to some of America's staple "junk foods."

Eat This

Not That

Grilled Chicken Soft Taco

Fried Fish Taco

Single Soft Serve Cone

Double Scoop Ice Cream Sundae

12 Baked or Popped Chips

12 Kettle or Potato Chips

1 oz Dark Chocolate

1 White Chocolate Bar

Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip with Carrot Chips

Rich Spinach Dip with Buttery Bread

Sliced Cinnamon Apple "Nachos" with Maple Syrup Glaze

Deep fried churros with chocolate sauce

Air Popped Popcorn

Chicago Mix Cheddar and Caramel Corn

Now, if you're looking for low-calorie, quick meal options to make from scratch at home, my staples are most definitely egg whites, whole grain lavash, skim cheeses and turkey meatballs. I can use these ingredients in about 10 different recipes using fresh produce options that I keep fully stocked, like pre-washed spinach, diced bell peppers, tomatoes and onions.

Eating the right kinds of foods does not have to be boring or tasteless, it can be full of nutrition and just as indulgent as your high calorie counterpart, without the added guilt!


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Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RD, is a San Diego based dietitian. She is owner of Elizabeth Shaw Consulting Services, in which she offers individual, corporate and food service consulting services. She an adjunct professor in Nutrition at San Diego Mesa Community College and is the Dining Dietitian for the University of California San Diego. Read her blog, Simple-Swaps, and connect with her on Facebook and Pinterest.

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