We’re all creatures of habit they say.
They also say people are very reluctant to change their eating habits.
Then it would seem to follow that if what they say is true, and your diet isn’t very healthy, you have little chance of getting out of that rut.
“The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions,” American Novelist Ellen Glasgow once wrote.
Taking that to heart! If your diet rut is creating unhealthy dimensions (particularly in those areas not so welcome), it may be time to do something about it well before that rut becomes a grave.
For me–like many of you, work, family and daily routines seem to “pre-schedule” the calendar and leave little predictable time each day to have normal meals at normal times.
That is the beginning of the problem.
Having no time to cook healthy meals leads many to finding menu shortcuts: fast foods, things out of boxes, cans with preservatives, fats to add irresistible flavor, and in cases like breads and pastries, fats to extend their shelf life.
To make matters worse, fat is everything we crave. Add sugar, and it’s almost impossible to resist. I swear, the two combined are the work of the “Devil.”
Having said that, I know perfectly well that fat is a necessary, and indeed even important, component of the human diet.
Fat is NOT a bad thing. Too much fat IS a bad thing.
Now, reducing fats in your diet isn’t rocket science. Just eat lots of apples, oatmeal and all the other delicious things that have little or no fat.
That won’t happen, and you and I know it. Besides, that isn’t healthy either. Like it or not, fat is (in moderation) just as important as protein and carbs.
So if your diet is a little extra “fatty,” how can you still enjoy many of your favorite recipes?
Here are 10 suggestions:
- For all of you who might use a “roux,” a (cooked fat and flour) thickening agent, switch to thickening your soup, stews, gravies and sauces with arrowroot (mixed with a little cold water). Arrowroot, like cornstarch, will thicken (without changing the flavor) of these dishes. You’ll skip ALL the fat.
- Pureed vegetables and fruits are another thickening trick, especially in soups and sauces. A cream of mushroom or bean soup, for example, can be made wonderfully creamy by pureeing half to all of the body of a soup cooked in broth or broth with some dairy added. Depending on your desired thickness, you can also add some dissolved arrowroot to finish the job. And the fruits? Applesauce can be substituted for up to ½ the amount of oil in many of your favorite bakery recipes! Give it a try!
- Non-stick cookware. Many people add unnecessary fat to their dishes simply because they are trying to prevent food from sticking to their pans. A GOOD-quality non-stick pan can vastly reduce, if not eliminate, the need for fat to do that job.
- Vegetable cooking spray (like PAM®) provides another way to limit your fat intake. Spraying a chicken breast (lightly) before searing it in a non-stick pan will vastly reduce the amount of fat you eat by omitting the pats of butter you may once have used. I’d also recommend that you consider buying an oil-mist pump sprayer at a cookware store, which will allow you to use your own oil and save money.
- Dairy down. Most recipes that use milk DO NOT need half and half or whole milk. Skim milk will do the job just as well. Fat savings? Every glass of whole milk has approximately 1 pat of butter or 1 ½ tsp of fat and about 36 calories. Skim milk has almost zero. You decide!
- A low-fat, homemade salad dressing? Try blending together white balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and fresh herbs. It emulsifies great and is delish!
- Bake not fry. It’s one of THE standard fat-reducing techniques, but beyond avoiding the obvious fried chicken, there are all sorts of other ways you can use baking to your “fat” advantage. Again, use a light spray of cooking oil, and try these:
- Thin-sliced, day-old, baked bagel chips or corn tortillas seasoned with your favorite herbs and spices make a great alternative to potato chips.
- Idaho potato spears (wedges) lightly sprayed with oil and seasoned with Cajun seasoning make a fantastic alternative to French fries.
8. An “eggcelent” way to reduce your fat intake is to reduce the amount of fat from egg yolks that you just happen to ingest because you need eggs in some recipes. Just substitute six egg whites plus one whole egg for every three eggs in your favorite recipes. Done! You won’t miss out on anything else going on in those recipes. What you WILL miss is over 4 grams (or a teaspoon) of fat for every yolk!
9. Low-fat dairy products. Low-fat cheeses and other dairy products, such as sour cream, offer a good way to reduce fat in your diet, especially if they are only a part of a recipe. You’ll get most, if not all, of the flavor and skip most, if not all, of the fat.
10. Watch the fats in your proteins. Trimming the excess fat from steaks and roasts BEFORE they are cooked is one way to avoid eating that same fat later. Even better, switch more of your protein diet to lean fish, boneless/skinless chicken breast or even the more exotic, like quinoa or beans.
They have nothing on you if you’re really serious about watching your intake of fatty foods this year. Try a couple of these tips and see how easy it is to get out of that rut and strut the NEW you!