If you’re feeling like you overdid it this weekend and need a bit of a diet reset, a low-calorie day might be a good idea. Dietitian Susie Burrell has some easy swaps for you to lighten up on Monday.
With Monday the start of the working week for many, it is often the day we allocate to starting over, especially in regards to diet and exercise. While diets are often inferred as something we need to do most, if not all of the time to get results, if you consider that the way we live on weekends tends to be very different to the way we live on weekdays, it makes sense that we would have different dietary approaches to complement each.
Specifically, allocating Monday as a low-calorie day packed full of nutrient-rich salads, veggies, fish and soups is not only a regime that is relatively easy to follow, but it helps to buffer the overconsumption that is common on weekends. So if you are keen to reap some of the many benefits of including a low-calorie day in your weekly meal plan, here are the nutrient-rich foods to base your diet on.
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All fish is good for us, but it’s white fish and shellfish in particular that are especially low-calorie options. With 100g of white fish containing more than 20g of protein and fewer than 100 calories, and four large prawns just 25 calories and 6g of protein, not only is it easy to include grilled fish or prawns in your Monday menu, but it will help to keep your entire daily calorie intake low.
Known as a superfood thanks to their high antioxidant content, all berries are good for us and can literally be enjoyed freely with less than 100 calories per cup along with 4g of dietary fibre. This makes berries a perfect low-calorie snack or addition to salads, yoghurts or smoothies.
Unlike potatoes and sweet potatoes that are much higher in carbohydrates, pumpkin has a much higher percentage of water, meaning that a 1/2 cup serve of pumpkin contains just 50 calories and 4g of fibre for only 8g of carbs.
Pumpkin is also extremely versatile, making a great vegetable pasta alternative when spiralised. It can be roasted and added to salads or even cut and baked into veggie chips and teamed with fish or chicken.
There are many, many cracker options in supermarkets but a couple of especially strong options nutritionally including Rye based crackers and corn cakes fit perfectly into a day of low-calorie eating. With as little as 10-20 calories per cracker, if you need a little more than fruits and veggies to munch on, these wholegrain crackers topped with a little Vegemite or light cream cheese can give you the sweet or salty hit you are looking for and offer a lighter alternative to bread and wraps.
Soups and salads
Both soups and salads are superfoods when aiming for a low-calorie day as they offer much nutrient density and bulk to help keep you full for fewer than 200 calories per serve. Think rich veggie soups served with a sprinkle of parmesan or loads of salad greens and fresh tomatoes enjoyed with a little balsamic.
The simple act of swapping one of your meals each Monday for a soup or salad is one of the easiest ways to slash your calorie intake on a Monday.
Popcorn, a nutritious wholegrain, is a superfood when it comes to low calorie snacking with just 30 calories per cup. This means that you could literally down several cups of popcorn, get the nutritional benefits of dietary fibre and a little protein for very few calories. The key is to seek out varieties that do not contain added fats or flavours, or better still, pop your own.
Many people resist the idea of low-calorie diets and fasting as they cannot bear the thought of skipping their favourite latte or cappuccino to start the day. If you are one of those people, I have good news for you: swapping to a piccolo version of your morning coffee means your coffee order contains just 40 calories or less which means you can reset your diet while enjoying your daily brew.
Susie Burrell is a dietitian and nutritionist and holds a master’s degree in coaching psychology. Susie is the resident dietitian on Channel 7’s Sunrise and has been a dietitian in Sydney for more than 20 years.