Healthy Snacks & How to Eat Healthy

Healthy Foods, Nutrition Facts & Healthy Meals

Push past plateaus with healthy meals that provide standout flavor and nutrition, and replace your favorite high calorie meals with these simple substitutions. And pair healthy snacks and meals with lighter drink selections for the one-two punch you need to jumpstart your weight loss plan. Learn how to eat healthy by checking the nutrition facts for the ingredients in your meals and drinks, and the Mayo Clinic recommends drinking at least eight ounces of fluid, mostly water or lower calorie drinks, per day to stay hydrated. Try these healthy food tips from Health contributing nutrition editor Cynthia Sass, RD, and add in regular strength and cardio workouts at Gold’s health clubs near you to start seeing lower numbers on the scale.

Swap Your Way Slim at Every Meal


Scale not budging? Your diet could be out of whack. Health.com helps you shed some pounds (without much effort!) by switching up your go-to foods.


9 MEAL SWAPS THAT SLASH CALORIES
When life gets crazy, it’s tempting to fall back on meals that require minimum effort. But if you’re having trouble slimming down, those dishes aren’t helping, says Health contributing nutrition editor Cynthia Sass, RD, author of S.A.S.S.! Yourself Slim. We asked her to devise easy meal substitutions that yield big results. “You’ll increase your nutrition intake and slash calories,” says Sass. Simply switch up your meals, include two healthy snacks and pair this 1,400-calorie plan with exercise–two moderate strength sessions and three 45-minute cardio workouts a week–and you could drop up to 10 pounds this month. Doesn’t it feel good to have that off your plate?

YOUR USUAL BREAKFAST: REDUCED-FAT BLUEBERRY MUFFIN
What this baked good lacks in fat it makes up for in refined flour and sugar, notes Sass, "which can spike blood sugar and insulin levels and create a carb surplus that gets socked away in your fat cells." Expect it to stoke–rather than suppress–your appetite.

Before: 410 calories

Smart Breakfast Swap: PB & fruit tacos Spread 1 Tbsp. natural peanut butter over 2 small whole corn tortillas, warmed in toaster oven. Fill with a mixture of 1/4 cup sliced banana and 1/2 cup sliced strawberries.

"The tortillas count as a whole grain, a food group linked to lower rates of obesity," says Sass. "Peanut butter adds good-for-you fat and protein to this fun breakfast, while strawberries were recently shown to help lower LDL, or 'bad,' cholesterol."

After: 275 calories

Smart Breakfast Swap: Open-face hummus and egg sandwich Spread 2 Tbsp. hummus over 1 slice toasted whole-grain bread. Top with 1/4 cup baby spinach and 1 sliced hard-boiled, poached or sunny-side-up egg. Serve with 1 cup red seedless grapes.

"The combination of lean protein, slow-burning carbohydrates and healthy fat will keep you energized," says Sass. And one study found that overweight dieters who ate eggs at breakfast lost 65 percent more weight (and 34 percent more belly fat) than those who had the same number of calories in a bagel-based breakfast.

After: 303 calories

Smart Breakfast Swap: Raspberry-almond parfait Layer 1 cup fresh raspberries and 2 Tbsp. each rolled oats and sliced almonds, both toasted in a skillet, over 8 oz. nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt.

High in protein, calcium and fiber, this parfait packs a big nutritional punch–sans the added sugar found in most prepared granolas.

After: 330 calories

YOUR USUAL LUNCH: CHICKEN CAESAR WRAP
"Most store-bought wraps contain two to four carb servings, which is way more than you need at one meal," says Sass, "especially if you'll be sitting at a desk all afternoon." The creamy dressing is also bad news–just 1/4 cup can have up to 340 calories.

Before: 610 calories

Smart Lunch Swap: Panera Bread All-Natural Turkey Chili If you're in a hurry, consider a hearty, healthy grab-and-go: Filled with beans and lean ground turkey, this 14-ounce serving packs 23 grams of protein, 15 grams of fiber– 60 percent of the daily target—and a quarter of the iron you need for the day.

After: 280 calories

Smart Lunch Swap: Tomato-feta pizza Toast a 6.5-inch whole-grain pita. Rub with 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil; top with 1 thinly sliced plum tomato and 1/4 cup crumbled feta. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. This entire pizza boasts fewer calories than just one old-school extra-large cheese slice, says Sass. "Because feta is so flavorful, you'll feel more than satisfied with an ounce, the recommended portion of cheese."

After: 320 calories

Smart Lunch Swap: Deconstructed chicken wrap Whisk together 1¼ cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt, 1 tsp. each Dijon and lemon juice, and 1¼ tsp. minced garlic. Toss with 2 cups torn romaine. Top with 3 oz. cooked chicken breast, a quarter of an avocado and 1 Tbsp. Parmesan. Serve with a quarter of a toasted whole-grain wrap. "You'll get tons of veggies and metabolism-boosting protein," says Sass. Bonus: Avocados have been shown to help curb hunger.

After: 326 calories

YOUR USUAL DINNER: ROTINI WITH MEAT SAUCE AND PARMESAN CHEESE
With too much refined starch and too few fiber- and antioxidant-rich vegetables, this meal is out of balance. "Plus," adds Sass, "a 3-ounce portion of ground beef can contain up to 4½ grams of artery-clogging saturated fat–nearly 30 percent of the maximum amount you should have daily."

Before: 524 calories

Smart Dinner Swap: Lime-cilantro chicken Sauté 1/4 cup minced yellow onion in 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil and 1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth for 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup sliced mushrooms; sauté for 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup minced red bell pepper, 1/2 tsp. minced garlic, 1 tsp. lime juice and a pinch each cayenne and black pepper; sauté until tender, about 2 minutes. Add 3 oz. cooked chicken breast. Serve over 1/2 cup cooked brown rice; top with a quarter of a ripe avocado and 1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro.

Thanks to the lean protein, complex carbs, healthy fat and antioxidant-rich seasonings, you'll be satisfied without feeling stuffed.

After: 420 calories

Smart Dinner Swap: Veggie and turkey penne Sauté 1/4 cup each sliced mushrooms and minced yellow onion in 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil until tender. Add 1/4 cup baby spinach, 1 medium diced tomato, 1/4 tsp. minced garlic and 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning; sauté until tender, about 2 minutes. Toss with 3 oz. browned 93% lean ground turkey and 1/2 cup cooked whole-wheat penne.

Pasta can be a diet food. Just subbing ground turkey for beef cuts the saturated fat content by 2 grams.

After: 393 calories

Smart Dinner Swap: Salmon Nicoise salad Lightly mist 1/2 cup fingerling potatoes with olive oil spray; wrap in foil and roast at 350 degrees until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool, then slice. Puree a quarter of a ripe avocado with 1/2 tsp. minced garlic, 1 Tbsp. each cider vinegar, lime juice and chopped cilantro, and a pinch black pepper until smooth. Toss 2 cups spring lettuce mix with dressing; transfer to a bowl. Top with 1/4 cup halved grape tomatoes, 5 red onion rings, 3 oz. cooked wild salmon, 1 sliced large hard-boiled egg and the potatoes.

This well-rounded meal delivers two key slimming ingredients, explains Sass: "Salmon's healthy omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to weight loss, and cooked, cooled potatoes are a source of resistant starch, which may help rev up fat-burning."

After: 405 calories

Jumpstart weight loss with healthy meals inspired by the meal swaps in this article, and fat burning cardio and strength workouts at Gold’s fitness centers near you. Serve healthy snacks and meals with lighter drinks like infused water for refreshing flavor without added calories. Part of eating healthy involves experimenting with new foods and drinks, so try new infused water recipes from Allrecipes.com like orange, blueberry and basil water or lemon, raspberry and mint water. With these healthy food and drink swaps, you’ll start seeing the results you want on the scale.

Healthy meals fall to the wayside when life becomes busy, but with a little preparation, you can plan for life’s busy times with these smart swaps and lower calorie drinks. For a healthy snack or breakfast, substitute your morning muffin with the peanut butter and fruit recipe in this article, and pair it with 1% or skimmed milk rather than milk-based energy drinks which contain added sugar. And learn how to eat healthy while out and about by checking the nutrition facts on websites for restaurants local to you, so that you know what your options are ahead of time. And eating healthy food doesn’t only cut calorie consumption; it also increases the nutritional value of your food.