I love bread but want to cut back on carbs, what can I do to change or cut back on carbs/cals?

It is great that you are interested in improving your diet. A balanced diet should contain carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Carbohydrates are the main energy source for our body– they are the energy that gets used first (before protein, fat and alcohol). While they are an important nutrient, I find that many people tend to consume more than their body needs. Let’s begin by talking about what exactly constitutes a carbohydrate. Foods that contain carbohydrate include:

Starches: Breads, bagels, cereals, rice, pasta
Starchy vegetables: Corn, peas, potatoes, winter squash, dried beans
Fruits: Whole pieces of fruit, canned and dried fruit, juices
Dairy products: Milk, yogurt
Concentrated sweets: Table sugar, honey, cookies, cake, candy

Carbohydrate portion sizes often exceed what would be considered a single serving and then too many calories are consumed at that meal. For example, a patient may report that she consumed a chicken/veggie stir fry over rice for dinner. Seems pretty healthy, right? Usually at this point I get out my measuring cups and ask my patient to show me how many “scoops” of rice were on her plate. Generally people report they have ~2 cups of rice at a time! A single serving of rice is ½ cup and contains about 100 calories, so my patient consumed ~400 calories just from rice! When this scenario occurs, I urge my patients to become familiar with what typical serving sizes look like on their plate. I encourage them to use measuring cups and check the label on foods they commonly eat (cereal, pasta, rice and other grains) in order to “see” what one portion looks like. This will help them understand approximately how many calories they are consuming with that serving of carbohydrate.

Cutting down carbohydrate portion sizes can be a good start to reducing your overall calorie intake. Another great way to reduce carbohydrates and calories is to find delicious substitutions. One that is very common these days is cauliflower. Skip the potatoes and substitute cauliflower instead. You can save yourself many calories and carbohydrates by doing this. Chop the cauliflower and then boil it until fork tender. Be sure to dry the cauliflower thoroughly with paper towel and then transfer it to the food processor. Combine with cheeses, butter, salt and pepper and blend until smooth! Another great low carbohydrate suggestion would be to use sliced eggplant instead of regular lasagna noodles. Slice the eggplant ~1/4” thick and then put on a baking pan, drizzle with olive oil and bake at 350 F until tender. Now assemble your lasagna with sauce and cheese and enjoy! Using Portobello mushrooms in place of hamburger buns is another fantastic way to save on calories. Start by lightly cleaning off the caps, drizzle with olive oil and roast on a baking sheet for about 12 minutes. The result is delicious and packed with flavor (be sure to have plenty of napkins for this one!) Finally, my personal favorite, spaghetti squash marinara for dinner! Slice the squash and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake flesh side down for 30-40 minutes and then shred the flesh into long strands. Combine the strands of squash with your favorite marinara sauce in a pan and you have a delicious, low calorie meal!

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