As you’re tempted to reach for another gooey pecan pumpkin torte your best friend (who just happens to be a pastry chef) made, you suddenly remember you have that little black strapless Jill Sander hanging in the closet for New Year’s Eve, and a pang of regret surges through your veins.
Eating smartly during the holidays doesn’t mean deprivation or puritanically abstaining from delicious foods.
Rather than tell people not to eat something, I’ve developed what I call lateral shifts: healthier satisfying substitutes for your favorite foods without the sugar or lingering guilt.
Whether it’s oatmeal or a protein smoothie, for instance, many people start their day with cow’s milk. Even if you’re not lactose intolerant, cow’s milk can trigger acne, rosacea, and other skin conditions, not to mention stalling fast fat loss.
Unsweetened coconut milk, which is loaded with fat-burning medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), makes the perfect lateral shift. Coconut milk can give you all of dairy’s satisfaction without the problems of cow’s milk. Unsweetened almond milk makes another smart lateral shift. I rotate So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk or their new protein-rich almond milk in The Virgin Diet Shake every morning.
Yogurt fan? Many fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts have as much sugar as a candy bar. Instead, I recommend stirring organic berries into coconut milk yogurt. You can even find dairy-free no-sugar-added coconut milk ice cream to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Every meal can become an opportunity for a healthy lateral shift. Load your sliced turkey and avocado, for instance, on a Romaine wrap rather than wheat wrap to save calories but spike your nutrient and fiber intake.
And who needs high-fructose corn syrup loaded condiments like ketchup or barbeque sauce when you can use flavorful salsa or marinara?
Think creatively and you can lateral shift just about any food. Once you get the hang of this, it can even become fun. Five of my favorite lateral shifts include:
- Swap peanuts and peanut butter for raw almonds and almond butter. Peanuts are legumes, not nuts, which can accrue mold and a fungus called aflatoxin. Many commercial peanut butters also come loaded with trans fat and high-fructose corn syrup. Besides being more nutrient-rich, almonds and almond butter just taste better than peanuts and peanut butter.
- Swap potatoes for faux-tatoes or sweet potatoes. Kids insisting on mashed potatoes with your grilled chicken and Brussels sprouts? Make a healthier switch to pureed cauliflower and coconut milk, also known as faux-tatoes. Or make baked sweet potato fries if you (or they) crave guiltless French fries.
- Swap pasta for spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash is rich in fiber and nutrients without regular pasta’s empty carbohydrates. Quinoa pasta (look for a certified gluten-free one with no corn) makes another nutrient-rich pasta alternative.
- Swap hot chocolate for a healthier homemade version. Everyone loves hot chocolate during the holidays, but those coffee shop hot cocoas can wrack up over 600 calories. An easy switch is Mediclear SGS Chocolate by Thorne Research or unsweetened cocoa powder with warm So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk.
- Swap flour for almond or coconut flour. Kids love chicken strips, but frozen and fast food varieties contain gluten and damaged fats. Almond or coconut flour provides that same crunch with nutrients you can feel good about.
© 2012 JJ Virgin & Associates, Inc. Celebrity Nutrition & Fitness Expert JJ Virgin helps clients lose weight fast by breaking free from food allergies. She is the bestselling author of Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy, a Huffington Post blogger, creator of the 4X4 Burst Training Workout & co-star of TLC’s Freaky Eaters. Her latest book, New York Times Bestseller The Virgin Diet: Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days, is out now. Learn more at www.thevirgindiet.com.
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