Published on July 20, 2015

Nutrition: Make some simple switches

“I’ll have the sauce on the side.”

“Let’s split the dessert.”

apple or cookiesWhen it comes to healthy eating, even little changes can make a bigger difference than we realize. And that’s important when you’re trying to tame unwanted pounds and the health risks they often bring.

“How we eat is linked to a lot of health conditions, like type 2 diabetes and heart disease,” says Michelle Brown, RD, CDE, Clinical Nutrition Manager at Mercy Philadelphia. “If we make the right decisions, it can help us get to a healthier way of life.”

Whether your goal is a healthy weight or better blood pressure control, learning new eating habits isn’t always easy. But it can be done. “And I’m here to help,” Brown adds. Often it’s easier to start with just one small change.

For example, a common challenge is today’s oversized portions. So you might focus on keeping portion sizes in check. Or starting this week, you might try filling half your plate with colorful fruits and veggies.

Swap it out

Here are some other changes you can try. These simple switches from Brown and other experts may help you limit calories, fat and sodium while getting lots of nutrients.

Instead of this

Try this

White bread and other refined grains Stock up on whole-grain versions of bread, pasta, tortillas and cereals.
Adding salt to foods Add zing with herbs and spices (for example, garlic, pepper or oregano).
Full-fat milk Introduce your taste buds to low-fat and fat-free dairy a little at a time.
Sautéing with butter or shortening Coat a nonstick pan with cooking spray or a dab of olive oil.
Potato chips Nibble on whole-grain crackers, fresh veggies or fresh fruit.
Fried chicken with skin Opt for baked skinless chicken breast.
Baked potato with butter Top it with salsa or nonfat sour cream instead.
Thick crust pizza Choose thin crust.
Creamy pasta sauce Go red (marinara sauce).
Thick crust pizza Choose thin crust.
Sugary sodas Add a splash of 100 percent fruit juice to water.
Sweet desserts Try sliced fresh fruit.
Red meat Grill up some fish.
Sugary cereal Sweeten oatmeal with berries or bananas.
Your favorite soup or stew Bump up the nutrients by adding dark green, red or orange veggies.

Nutrition Matters

Did you know Mercy Philadelphia offers nutrition services? Registered dietitians can provide nutrition counseling to help people better manage a health condition, such as cancer, diabetes or heart disease. Learn more at