If you want to live a healthy lifestyle, chances are pretty good you will need to change some of your eating habits. Considering and following thru on some healthy food substitutions is an excellent start.
Having followed the Noom Weight Loss Program, I realized the importance that caloric density played in keeping you full and satisfied. Through their Green, Yellow and Red Food System, all foods fall in one of the three colour groups and based on their caloric density. You can find out more about Noom’s food system and how caloric density works by reading my article “Green, Yellow and Red-The Food System at Noom” . Different categories of foods like meats, grains and dairy can fall in more than one colour group because of the caloric density.
That is where the importance of understanding healthy food substitutions comes into play. We will go through the different food categories to understand the healthy vs unhealthy food substitutions that are out there.
Healthy Food Substitutions
Fruits and Vegetables
There is really very little way you can go wrong in this category with Noom. 30% of your daily diet should come from the green category on the Noom plan and if you want more than 30%, that’s no problem with Noom. The vast majority of fruits and vegetables are found here. These foods are low in calories and are the least calorie dense of the color categories. The thing to keep in mind with fruits and veggies is the calorie density. For example, grapes are in the green category, but shrivelled up grapes (raisins) are in the red category because they are so calorie dense. Any dried fruits are going to fall in either the yellow or red categories because of their calorie density.
When considering meat, choose lean meats. Cut off all visible fat before cooking. In poultry, white meat has less fat than dark meat. Remember to remove the skin or buy skinless. Pork roasts will contain more fat than pork loin. For red meats, limit meat that has excess striations of fat through it. Ground turkey or ground chicken will have less fat content than ground pork or beef. If buying ground beef look for a fat content of 10% or less. Ham and ham steaks are a good choice remembering to cut off excessive fat before cooking.
Fish is also a good choice, but some fish does contain more fat and oil than others. White fish is a good choice as it is extremely low in fat and calories. Consider fish like cod, sole, halibut, maki maki, tilapia, shrimp and tuna. If tuna is canned, choose “packed in water” and not oil. Salmon is also good but slightly higher in calories and fat. Salmon does contain heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids which makes it an excellent choice.
Egg whites are also less calorie than whole eggs. The way you prepare eggs also makes a difference. Boiled and poached eggs would be a healthier choice than a fried egg.
When choosing grains, whole grains will be the healthier choice. Many products are made from refined grains. The difference is in the grain itself. With whole grains, the entire grain remains intact supplying precious nutrients and are fiber rich. Refined grains are processed and strips the grain of its main components for nutrition. Look for the word “whole” and it should be listed as one of the first ingredients on the nutritional label.
Some “enriched” products will add some of the nutrients removed during processing, but does not replace the fiber lost.
There are many, many products out there that are processed and strips the natural nutrients and fiber. These can be found in cookies, cakes, crackers, breads, bars and so much more. These are packed with calories and little nutritional value.
Look for products that are “whole grain” or “whole wheat”. These can be found in breads and pasta. Brown rice and whole grain rice, barley, oatmeal and air-popped popcorn are also some good choices for grains. You can read more on “Whole Grains VS Regular Grains-What’s The Difference?” on the Mayo Clinic’s site.
Healthier choices for dairy products are going to be non-fat or low fat. Basically non-fat dairy products will be classified as “green” with Noom. Low-fat will be “yellow” and full fat will be “red” on the Noom system. Some non-fat choices for daily would include milks such as skim, almond, non-sweetened soy, cashew milk, non-fat lattes. Other non-fat dairy products come in the form of cottage cheese, cheese, yogurt, greek yogurt and cheese sticks.
Low fat varieties of dairy can be found in milks, light or low-fat cream cheese, yogurts, cheese, cottage cheese
Full fat varieties you should have sparingly. These would include full fat cheese, cream cheese, cottage cheese-4% or higher, cheese curds, whole milk, half and half creamers, flavoured creamers, butter, margarine.
All fats are not created equal. At one time fats were really frowned upon. Now it’s known that although some fats are unhealthy, some fats are actually good for you and can even keep you heart healthy, as is explained in WebMDs article, “What Types of Fat Are In Food?”. The thing with fats on Noom is that they will be found in the red category because of its caloric density. Some are actually good for you and others…not so much. Just be sure to consume in small quantities. Noom allows 25% per day’s food to come from the red category. Be sure to pick some “good reds”.
Healthy fats are unsaturated fats. Look on nutrition labels if you are unsure what type of fat your food contains. Unsaturated fats come in two forms-polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Foods that contain unsaturated fats are avocados, nuts such as walnuts, pecans, almonds and more, oils such as olive, sunflower, canola and more, flaxseeds and fatty fish such as tuna and salmon.
Unhealthy fats are saturated fats and trans fats. Saturated fats can be found in red meats like beef, pork and lamb, whole fat dairy, butter, skin on poultry. Trans fats can be found in fried foods, cakes, cookies, pies, crackers, donuts and other baked goods. It can also be found in microwave popcorn and tub or stick margarine.
Read your nutrition labels for the types of fats in foods and note if they are near the top the list on the label. The top of the list indicates a larger percentage in the food.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are found on the red list, and yet for the most part, are good for you in healthy quantities. These foods are good sources of healthy fats, protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Some excellent choices for nuts would be walnuts, cashews, peanuts, pistachios, pecans. Good choices for seeds would be sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds.
For further information on the benefits of nuts and seeds check out this article from Today’s Dietician called “The Wonder of Nuts and Seeds”.
Green, Yellow and Red Food Lists For Noom
The Noom food app literally has over a million foods in its library. Chances are when you input a food, it’ll bring up information on it which is super convenient for tracking. Sometimes when planning out menus, it’s nice to be able to look at a list of foods contained in Noom’s Green, Yellow and Red Food Lists. For your convenience, I have created a compilation of some of these foods (not a million, but you get the idea) :o) Make your planning easier with these lists and enjoy!
Think Healthy With Food Choices
With so many foods to choose from, it is easy to become puzzled by what’s good and what’s not good for us when it comes to our health. Food substitutions are more important than ever. Understanding the differences in these categories and knowing some of the terminology can help us make better healthy food decisions. Be well informed and be healthier for it!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes there are and some are good for you and some are not. When looking for good fats, look for the words unsaturated, polyunsaturated or monounsaturated. The bad fats are saturated fats and trans fats.
These foods are very nutritious in that they contain healthy fats, are a good source of protein and fiber, and contain vitamins and minerals. Nuts and seeds are best taken in in their natural state. Anything processed or “flavoured” can defeat some of the purpose of these healthy foods.
After years of weight issues, I have finally found the formula of combining healthy food choices, regular exercise and positive behavior change to lose weight for good. Coupled with, exploring self-development, being productive and living simply, I am now maintaining a healthy lifestyle and in a good place. I enjoy writing articles to help my readers to become the best they can be!