Tasty food swaps to keep your diet on track

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  • If you cook low-calorie versions of your favourite meals, losing weight won't have to mean going without.

    Take inspiration from four real women – Kim, Sue, Gemma and Sarah – who have shared all with the nation as they filmed their 12-week weight loss journey, supported by Denise Van Outen and in house weight management dietitian Jodie Relf.

    Find out how they plan to ditch or switch the calorie-laden foods they usually love in their search for a body beautiful. Here are some healthy food swaps to try.

    1. Kim’s favourite meals are roast dinners and casseroles. If you’re a meat lover, it’s easy to adapt your favourite recipes with a few simple tweaks. Choose lean rather than fatty red meat, opt for back rather than streaky bacon, or swap red meat for chicken or turkey (skin removed).

    For dishes like spaghetti bolognese, try turkey mince or vegetarian mince as a tasty alternative to beef. Always grill rather than fry. When you make casseroles, tip the balance in favour of vegetables or pulses rather than meat.

    2. Sue tends to skip breakfast, then resorts to biscuits mid-morning. She also loves chocolate. Starting your day with a filling breakfast helps you avoid those mid-morning cravings and gives you the energy you need to fuel your body.

    Choose a healthy option like low- or no-sugar cereals, such as porridge or sugar-free muesli. Also swap whole milk for semi-skimmed or skimmed; full-fat yogurt for a low-fat version; and, rather than sprinkling them with sugar, top cereals with fresh or dried fruit. If you crave an ‘elevensies’ biscuit have a plain rice cake or an oatcake. Or, if you’re desperate for chocolate, savour a single square of dark chocolate that has a high cocoa content (over 70%).

    3. Gemma’s weaknesses are chip-and-dips and creamy, cheesy foods. Swap chips for crudités like carrot, red pepper or cucumber sticks, and choose low-fat dips or a salsa. Put only a small amount of dip on the plate, so you’re not tempted to eat the whole pot.

    Ideally, swap cheesy sauces for tomato and vegetable-based ones, but if you really fancy a cheese sauce, make it with skimmed milk and a small amount of low-fat Cheddar. A little French mustard will add extra flavour.

    4. Sarah, whose grandfather had a sweet shop, loves sugary treats. She’s not alone – but for anyone with a sweet tooth there are a number of alternatives. Have a medley of chopped fresh fruit or a handful of dried fruit ready in a plastic container, for when temptation strikes.

    For desserts, try a sugar-free jelly, or if ice-cream is your downfall, try a low-fat, low-sugar frozen yogurt instead, or even freeze some peeled banana chunks. Watching a movie with the kids? A cup of homemade popcorn popped in oil is just 55 calories!

    Our food regimes

    With support from TV star Denise van Outen, who’s an advocate of healthy living and being active, plus a helping hand from weight loss aid XLS-Medical Max Strength, Kim, Sue, Gemma and Sarah have started their weight loss journeys by making healthy changes. Here they reveal the secrets of their new food regimes…

    Kim – 39, from Market Harborough – is a self-confessed foodie, who says, ‘ I love cooking and I love eating!’ Kim also grows food on her allotment, so she will enjoy being creative with lots of healthy, fresh vegetables.

    Sue – 49, from Stratford on Avon – concentrates on eating the foods she really enjoys. ‘I’m feeling confident about this trial because it’s allowing me to still keep eating things that I want to eat. I don’t feel like I’m on a diet. I’m just being a bit sensible in my choices.’

    Gemma – 40, from Hastings – loves entertaining and has been experimenting with new recipes. ‘Last night I had the girls round for dinner. At that point when everyone had commented on how nice the food was I decided to ‘fess up and let them know it was all low-fat. They were completely surprised!’

    Sarah – 50, from Hampshire – focuses on the rainbow look of her meals. ‘All the food is really colourful. I’ve taken some photographs of it to document what I’m eating and they’re just beautiful pictures. Colour mapping is the way to point me in the right direction food-wise!’

    Eating a balanced diet and staying active is the best way to lose weight – and keep it off. XLS-Medical Max Strength is a helping hand that’s clinically proven to reduce your calorie intake from carbohydrates, sugar and fat – and because it stabilises blood glucose, it also helps curb food cravings, so you lose weight faster*.

    Working naturally with your body, women have found XLS-Medical Max Strength helps towards their weight loss goals faster than dieting alone* – simply take two tablets half an hour before your two main meals a day.

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