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Tips for Healthy Substitutes

These lower-calorie alternatives provide new ideas for old favorites. When making a food choice, remember to consider vitamins and minerals. Some foods provide most of their calories from sugar and fat but give you few, if any, vitamins and minerals.

This guide is not meant to be an exhaustive list. We stress reading labels to find out just how many calories are in the specific products you decide to buy.

If you usually buy: Try these:
  • Evaporated whole milk
  • Whole milk
  • Ice cream
  • Whipping cream
  • Sour cream
  • Cream cheese
  • Cheese (cheddar, Swiss, or jack)
  • American cheese
  • Regular (4%) cottage cheese
  • Whole milk mozzarella cheese
  • Whole milk ricotta cheese
  • Coffee cream (1/2 and 1/2)
    or non-dairy creamer (liquid or powder)
  • Evaporated fat-free (skim)
    or reduced fat (2%) milk
  • Fat-free (skim), low-fat (1%),
    or reduced fat (2%) milk
  • Sorbet and ices, sherbet, and
    low-fat or fat-free frozen yogurt
  • Imitation whipped cream (made
    with fat-free [skim] milk)
  • Plain low-fat yogurt
  • Neufchatel or "light" cream cheese
    or fat-free cream cheese
  • Reduced calorie cheese,
    low-calorie processed cheeses, etc.
  • Fat-free cheese
  • Fat-free American cheese or
    other types of fat-free cheeses
  • Low-fat (1%) or reduced fat
    (2%) cottage cheese
  • Part-skim milk, low-moisture
    mozzarella cheese
  • Part-skim milk ricotta cheese
  • Low-fat (1%) or reduced fat (2%) milk or non-fat dry milk powder

If you usually buy: Try these:
  • Ramen noodles
  • Pasta with white sauce (Alfredo)
  • Pasta with cheese sauce
  • Granola
  • White rice
  • Rice or noodles (spaghetti,
    macaroni, etc.)
  • Pasta with red sauce (marinara)
  • Pasta with vegetables (primavera)
  • Bran flakes, crispy rice, etc.
  • Cooked grits or oatmeal
  • Reduced-fat granola
  • Brown rice

If you usually buy: Try these:
  • Cold cuts or lunch meats
    (bologna, salami, liverwurst, etc.)
  • Hot dogs (regular)
  • Bacon or sausage
  • Regular ground beef
  • Chicken or turkey with
    skin, duck, or goose
  • Oil-packed tuna
  • Beef (chuck, rib, or brisket)
  • Pork (spareribs or untrimmed loin)
  • Frozen breaded fish or
    fried fish (homemade or commercial)
  • Whole eggs
  • Frozen TV dinners (containing
    more than 13 grams of fat per serving)
  • Chorizo sausage
  • Low-fat cold cuts (95% to 97%
    fat-free lunch meats or low-fat pressed meats)
  • Lower-fat hot dogs
  • Canadian bacon or lean ham
  • Extra lean ground beef such
    as ground round or ground turkey (read labels)
  • Chicken or turkey without
    skin (white meat)
  • Water-packed tuna (rinse to
    reduce sodium content)
  • Beef (round or loin) (trimmed
    of external fat)(choose select grades)
  • Pork tenderloin or trimmed,
    lean smoked ham
  • Fish or shellfish, unbreaded
    (fresh, frozen, or canned in water)
  • Egg whites or egg substitutes
  • Frozen TV dinners (containing
    less than 13 grams of fat per serving and
    lower in sodium)
  • Turkey sausage, drained well (read label)
  • Vegetarian sausage (made with tofu)

If you usually buy: Try these:
  • Croissants, brioches, etc.
  • Donuts, sweet rolls, muffins,
    scones, or pastries
  • Party crackers
  • Cake (pound, chocolate or yellow)
  • Cookies
  • Hard french rolls or soft
    brown ‘n serve rolls
  • English muffins, bagels, reduced
    fat or fat-free muffins or scones
  • Low-fat crackers (choose
    lower in sodium)
  • Saltine or soda crackers
    (choose lower in sodium)
  • Cake (angel food, white,
    or gingerbread)
  • Fat-free or reduced fat cookies
    (graham crackers, ginger snaps, or fig bars)
    (compare calorie level)

If you usually buy: Try these:
  • Nuts
  • Ice cream, for example, cones or bars
  • Custards or puddings (made with whole milk)
  • Popcorn (air-popped or light microwave),
    fruits, vegetables
  • Frozen yogurt, frozen fruit, or
    chocolate pudding bars
  • Puddings (made with fat-free milk)

If you usually buy: Try these:
  • Regular margarine or butter
  • Regular mayonnaise
  • Regular salad dressings
  • Butter or margarine on toast or bread
  • Oils, shortening, or lard
  • Light spread margarines, diet margarine,
    or whipped butter, tub or squeeze bottle
  • Light or diet mayonnaise or mustard
  • Fat-free or reduced calorie salad
    dressings, lemon juice, or plain,
    herb-flavored, or wine vinegar
  • Jelly, jam, or honey on bread or toast
  • Non-stick cooking spray for
    stir-frying or sautéing
  • As a substitute for oil or butter,
    use applesauce or prune purée in baked goods

If you usually buy: Try these:
  • Canned cream soups
  • Gravy (homemade with fat and/or milk)
  • Fudge sauce
  • Guacamole dip or refried beans with lard
  • Canned broth-based soups (low-sodium)
  • Gravy mixes made with water or homemade with
    the fat skimmed off and fat-free milk
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Salsa