Is your diet contributing to health complications? Are you trying to reduce your risk of chronic disease by adopting a healthier diet? Today is the day to start eating right. Transitioning to a healthier, satisfying diet may be easier than you think. In addition to practicing good portion control habits, try substituting high calorie, fattening foods for low-fat, low-calorie alternatives.

Dairy
Next time you go grocery shopping, take extra time to read the labels on your milk, cheese and other dairy products. Nearly every dairy product you love has a fat-free or low-fat alternative. You don’t have to stop drinking milk or eating cream cheese, but you should choose the healthiest option. Use low-fat cheeses in your cooking and on sandwiches. Even desserts like ice cream and pudding can be switched out for healthier sorbets and frozen yogurt. Just be sure to limit artificial sweeteners.

Meat
According to the Meatless Monday campaign, skipping meat once a week may reduce your risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. Try avoiding meat altogether once a week. Substitute vegetables in one of your favorite meat recipes, such as lasagna. On other days, choose healthier meat options. Eat poultry white meat without the skin. Choose extra lean ground meats. Learn to read labels as you shop. Trim fat from cuts of beef and pork. When eating fish and shellfish, avoid eating it fried or breaded.

Grains and Bread
Grains are always good for you, right? The fact is, even grains have a spectrum of healthiness. For example, it’s better to choose brown rice than white rice. When you’re eating pasta, bread and other grains, look for whole grain options and avoid using sauces and toppings that add fat to the dish. Be wary of high sodium in dishes like ramen noodles and canned soups with pasta.

Fats, Snacks and Desserts
Try a handful of almonds instead of a handful of candy. Always use small portions when you’re indulging in desserts. When baking, Health.gov recommends substituting pureed prune or applesauce for the required oil or butter. Try a fresh, healthy salsa instead of a high calorie, high sodium bean or cheese dip. Make a bowl of popcorn instead of opening a bag of greasy potato chips. You can still snack, as long as you snack thoughtfully.

Would you like more nutritional information and support to assist you with weight loss? The North Hills Bariatric Center offers Educational Weight Loss Surgery Symposiums monthly. Call 1-855-5NHILLS for a physician referral so that you can learn how to make the best nutritional, diet and fitness choices for you.

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