How to stick to your fitness resolution with healthy substitute cheat sheet

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Pasta or noodles
A regular serving at a restaurant includes 30 to 40gm of pasta. The creamy, cheesy dressing can push the calorie intake to 250 to 400 calories. Substitute with

  • Zucchini noodles or zoodles, carrot or beetroot noodles. Zoodles barely have calories, if you spare heavy dressing. Two zucchinis will give you about 150gm of zoodles. Dress it with herbs and one to two teaspoons of olive oil. You can also make it with pesto, orange or fresh tomato sauce. Add fresh vegetables.

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  • Substitute your regular wheat noodles or pasta with the buckwheat variety. Buckwheat is less processed, and higher on fibre, vitamin A, B and antioxidants, compared to regular wheat.

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Cheese
Processed cheese is very high on saturated and trans fats. Do not consume cheese every day, even if it's slim cheese. The processed variety is bad for your heart as it has high triglycerides and cholesterol. For a serious craving, have it once a week.

Substitute with

  • Two tablespoons of feta or paneer, not more than once a week. It's high on protein and calcium.

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Sugar
Indians can't do without multiple cups of tea or coffee, with more than a teaspoon of sugar in each cup. This adds up to at least four teaspoons of sugar a day, which is double the quantity of daily intake Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for a regular adult. Two teaspoons is the recommended allowance, in addition to natural sugar intake. This helps maintain the body's osmosis and normal blood pressure), for a healthy adult. For those who are obese, cutting down on sugar is even more important. Indian food traditions include gajar ka halwa in most homes in this season, in addition to mithai consumed during the ongoing wedding season. Combined with the sugar that enters your system through other meals, in fruits and dry fruits, the levels can harm your body with both immediate (irritability) and long-term ailments. Packaged granola bars are high in sugar too; and ingredients such as cranberries and raisins, increase sugar levels too. Sugar substitutes such as maple syrup or honey used in these are very high.

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Substitute with

  • Organic, brown or coconut sugar.
  • Raw, non-commercial honey is less processed and another good substitute, the limit of two teaspoons remains the same.
  • Take 30gm or three tablespoons of unsweetened cereal such as regular oats, and add a spoon of granola. It's best to eat it in the morning and not as an evening snack or for dinner.
  • If you are craving sugar (and not diabetic), eat not more than two dates a day. Dried apricots or figs, fresh cranberries are a good source of natural sugar.
  • Two small til (sesame, 80 to 100 calories) or peanut laddoos made with jaggery can satisfy your craving. Two squares of one inch by one inch chikki will also not ruin your diet. Consume sugar before sunset, as your metabolism slows down after that. If you crave for international desserts such as cheesecakes, brownies or pastries, eat a square of 70 per cent or higher natural chocolate bar or raw cacao. It's a natural antioxidant.

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Fried snacks (farsan)
The so-called healthy soy or nachni chips are equally bad, especially because people tend to eat double the quantity as it is considered healthy. Most roasted and health snacks are gimmicks as the salt content is extremely high, which makes it addictive. The mention of the word "healthy" on the label serves as a licence to eat more.

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Substitute with

  • Roasted kurmura (30gm 100 to 150 calories vs 200 to 280 calories for chivda) mixed with roasted chana. It will give you the same crunch you crave for from fried snacks. Skip the sev and add chopped onions and tomato, and some coriander and green chilli chutney to make it tasty.
  • Roasted lotus seeds or makhana, which are high in protein. Don't pick the packed flavoured options such as sour cream. It's best to roast at home in one teaspoon of oil and a pinch of salt and black pepper.