The environmental movement has created the mantra “Reduce, reuse, recycle” to remind us to conserve natural resources. Similarly, there are options to conserve calories with favorite foods. It may not be a popular slogun, but “reduce, reschedule, replace” can be used as a guide to cut the calories from otherwise high calorie sources. Let me explain.
It is probably apparent if you have been reading my posts that I am not a believer in extreme sacrifice in eating. I believe that pleasure should not be separate from food. I also believe in the value of realism, and any eating plan that feels too deprivational will surely not last long! Moderation of high calorie favorite foods is a reasonable attainable goal. Reducing, rescheduling, and replacing are three good ways to look at moderation.
One obvious way of cutting the calories of a certain food over time is to reduce the quantity of it. In other words, even if we eat it as often as before, we will consume fewer calories if we simply reduce the portion size. My personal example is cheese. Who doesn’t love cheese?! It tastes good on almost everything. I remember an ad campaign years ago that I thought was brilliant: “Cheese makes food sing!” I do not like fat-free cheese, so that is not an option for me. I like good flavorful cheese, but I am willing to compromise on quantity. My solution is to use highly flavored cheeses like blue cheese, parmesan, or goat cheese in limited quantites. I crumble blue cheese or goat cheese on salads and sprinkle a little parmesan on pasta or vegetables, but I seldom just eat cheese alone or on crackers. I find it harder to stop with a moderate amount, and it just is not worth the calories (or saturated fat) to me.
If you do not want to cut down on the quantity of a favorite food, another option is to reschedule how often you eat it. Four ounces of cheese is about 400-450 calories (and a lot of unhealthy fat), but if you cut back from 7 times a week to 3 times a week , the calorie savings will be significant over time. Rescheduling is the strategy I use with really rich desserts. I do not want a tiny piece. I would rather have a full-size portion less frequently.
The third way to practice moderation with tempting foods is to find a suitable substitute, in other words replace it with something else that is satisfying enough to make the switch to a lower calorie option. I love ice cream, and my favorite type used to be frozen custard. Years ago, I found out how high in fat and calories it is (about 300 calories per 1/2 cup – not even a very large serving!). Luckily I found that there are really good substitutes. My favorites are McDonald’s ice cream cones (actually lowfat ice cream) and Edy’s Slow Churned ice cream (about 100 calories per 1/2 cup of ice cream). I do not eat less than before and I do not eat ice cream less frequently either, but I do consume far fewer calories over time as a result of the switch to lower calorie substitutes. The key here is that you have to like the replacements.
Try a favorite hot fudge sundae concoction of mine. Put 1/2 cup of Edy’s Slow Churned vanilla ice cream in a bowl. Put a single serving (1/2 cup) of fat-free chocolate pudding in a microwavable container and heat until warm in the microwave. Pour this over the ice cream for a 200 calorie treat that is a good substitute for a sundae with many more calories.
Now, just for fun, let’s try something new: a poll! Please let me know what you think about my sundae idea. Share your comments as well. We can all use some new ideas!
It is a good idea to make well-informed food choices. Find out the approximate calorie content in the foods you eat. Ask yourself this question: “Is it worth it?” I think the answer to this question is personal. It takes into consideration the health benefits (or lack thereof) and calorie content as well as how much you want it. Here are two examples of how I have answered the question recently: