Cutting Calories

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To learn more about why calories are important in losing weight, check out Finding a Balance.

Eat More, Weigh Less?
Eating fewer calories doesn’t necessarily mean eating less food. To be able to cut calories without eating less and feeling hungry, you need to replace some higher calorie foods with foods that are lower in calories and   fill you up. In general, these foods contain a lot of water and are high in fiber.

Rethink Your Drink
Most people try to reduce their calorie intake by focusing on food, but another way to cut calories may be to change what you drink. You may find that you’re consuming quite a few calories just in the beverages you have each day. Find out how you can make better drink choices to reduce your calorie intake.

How to Avoid Portion Size Pitfalls to Help Manage Your Weight

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You may find that your portion sizes are leading you to eat more calories than you realize. Research shows that people unintentionally consume more calories when faced with larger portions. This can mean excessive calorie intake, especially when eating high-calorie foods.

How to Use Fruits and Vegetables to Help Manage Your Weight
Learn about fruits and vegetables and their role in your weight management plan. Tips to cut calories by substituting fruits and vegetables are included with meal-by-meal examples. You will also find snack ideas that are 100 calories or less. With these helpful tips, you will soon be on your way to adding more fruits and vegetables into your healthy eating plan.

Ideas for Every Meal1

Ideas for Every Meal
Breakfast Substitution Calories Reduced by
Top your cereal with low fat or fat-free milk instead of 2% or whole milk. 1 cup of fat-free milk instead of 1 cup of whole milk. 63
Use a non-stick pan and cooking spray (rather than butter) to scramble or fry eggs. 1 spray of cooking spray instead of 1 pat of butter. 34
Choose reduced-calorie margarine spread for toast rather than butter or stick margarine. 2 pats of reduced calorie margarine instead of 2 pats of butter. 36
Lunch Substitution Calories Reduced by
Add more vegetables such as cucumbers, lettuce, tomato, and onions to a sandwich instead of extra meat or cheese. 2 slices of tomatoes, ¼ cup of sliced cucumbers, and 2 slices of onions instead of an extra slice (3/4 ounce) of cheese and 2 slices (1 ounce) of ham. 154
Accompany a sandwich with salad or fruit instead of chips or French fries. ½ cup diced raw pineapple instead of 1 ounce bag of potato chips. 118
Choose vegetable-based broth soups rather than cream- or meat-based soups. 1 cup of vegetable soup instead of 1 cup cream of chicken soup. 45
When eating a salad, dip your fork into dressing instead of pouring lots of dressing on the salad. ½ TBSP of regular ranch salad dressing instead of 2 TBSP of regular ranch dressing. 109
When eating out, substitute a broth-based soup or a green lettuce salad for French fries or chips as a side dish. A side salad with a packet of low-fat vinaigrette dressing instead of a medium order of French fries. 270
Dinner Substitution Calories Reduced by
Have steamed or grilled vegetables rather than those sautéed in butter or oil. Try lemon juice and herbs to flavor the vegetables. You can also sauté with non-stick cooking spray. ½ cup steamed broccoli instead of ½ cup broccoli sautéed in 1/2 TBSP of vegetable oil. 62
Modify recipes to reduce the amount of fat and calories. For example, when making lasagna, use part-skim ricotta cheese instead of whole-milk ricotta cheese. Substitute shredded vegetables, such as carrots, zucchini, and spinach for some of the ground meat in lasagna. 1 cup of part-skim ricotta cheese instead of 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese. 89
When eating out, have a cocktail or dessert instead of both during the same eating occasion. Choosing one or the other saves you calories. A 12-ounce beer has about 153 calories. A slice of apple pie (1/6 of a 8″ pie) has 277 calories. 153 if you have the apple pie without the drink 277 if you have a drink and no pie.
When having pizza, choose vegetables as toppings and just a light sprinkling of cheese instead of fatty meats. One slice of a cheese pizza instead of one slice of a meat and cheese pizza. 60
Snacks Substitution Calories Reduced by

Choose air-popped popcorn instead of oil-popped popcorn and dry-roasted instead of oil-roasted nuts.

3 cups of air-popped popcorn instead of 3 cups of oil-popped popcorn. 73
Avoid the vending machine by packing your own healthful snacks to bring to work. For example, consider vegetable sticks, fresh fruit, low fat or nonfat yogurt without added sugars, or a small handful of dry-roasted nuts. An eight-ounce container of no sugar added nonfat yogurt instead of a package of 6 peanut butter crackers. 82
Choose sparkling water instead of sweetened drinks or alcoholic beverages. A bottle of carbonated water instead of a 12-ounce can of soda with sugar. 136
Instead of cookies or other sweet snacks, have some fruit for a snack. One large orange instead of 3 chocolate sandwich cookies. 54
Want to learn more?

To learn more about why calories are important in losing weight, check out Finding a Balance.

Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight
Tips on how to eat healthfully and enjoy it.

Planning Meals
By stocking up on healthier foods that contain fewer calories, you’ll be making small changes that can prepare you to be a weight-loss success story!

Healthy Recipes
Links to healthy recipes with calorie counts and nutritional information.


1Calculations performed using the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.

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