10 simple but effective food swaps that will set your New Year’s diet up for success. 

By Emily Tylman
Updated May 24, 2017
Honey-Lemon Dressing
Credit: © Tina Rupp

We all know how it goes with New Year's diets: For two weeks (if you're lucky), you are very diligent about upholding the integrity of your diet. Then you start to slip. At first it's just a little cheat here or there, in extenuating circumstances—it would be rude to turn down a cookie at the office birthday party!—but inevitably, one thing leads to another. Before you know it, the whole thing has gone out the window.

This year, maintain your health regime a little while longer by swapping in healthy foods for some of the junkier ingredients in your life. Here, our 10 favorite healthy food swaps.

Swap carbonated water for soda:

Switching from soda to carbonated water is an easy way to decrease the amount of sugar you drink without eliminating the refreshing, fizzy bubble element from your beverage choice. You can naturally sweeten the soda water by adding citrus slices and mint, cucumbers and pineapple, or cranberry juice and rosemary—like in this mocktail.

Trade in store-bought salad dressing for homemade:

This herb-packed dressing is a great homemade substitute for store-bought green goddess—without all the fat from mayonnaise or sour cream. If that recipe is a bit too complicated, you can always make a basic vinaigrette. It can be as simple as whisking three parts oil with one part vinegar. Once you have that down, you can get creative by adding your own flavorings—like herbs, spices, or mustard.

Bake your French fries instead of frying them:

Simply bakingFrench fries instead of deep-frying them is a great way to cut a lot of extra fat. Plus, when making these oven fries, you keep the skins on the potatoes, giving you extra vitamin B and C, as well as fiber and potassium.

Swap in applesauce for oil:

When baking, reduce the fat by swapping 1/2 the oil with an equal amount of applesauce. If you don't taste the difference, try completely replacing the oil with applesauce next time. This zucchini bread is a healthy test; it's packed with vegetables and heart-healthy nuts.

Replace couscous with quinoa:

This one seems like a no-brainer. Couscous and quinoa not only look similar but, once cooked, they have almost the same texture. The big difference is their nutritional values.Couscous is a simple carbsimilar to white pasta, while quinoa is a grain like seed high in fiber and protein. So when you feel like making a recipe with couscous, just cook off some quinoa instead.

Use meringue for frosting:

While eating cake isn't the best option while trying to diet, there are ways to make it less unhealthy, like exchanging high-fat frostings for fat free meringue. For example, this coconut cake is covered in whipped cream, but it would taste just as delicious with a simple meringue. Don't forget: moderation is key!

Replace breadcrumbs with oats:

Pulse rolled oats in a food processor until finely ground. Substitute them in recipes that call for breadcrumbs, such as meatloaf and meatballs. It will sneak another whole grain into the meal and also decrease the sodium normally found in seasoned breadcrumbs.

Eat popcorn instead of chips:

Freshly popped popcorn (not the buttery, microwave kind) is lower in calories and fat than chips are. You can dress your popcorn up by adding your own flavorings,too. Add fresh lemon zest and earthy thyme, or try ranch-flavored popcorn made with a blend of seasonings to replicate that creamy, addictive ranch taste.

Swap greek yogurt for sour cream:

This is a great all-purpose trick.Greek yogurt has that same delicious, tangy flavor that sour cream does—but without the fat. It can be used in mashed potatoes, on tacos, in dips or atop chili.

Sub nuts for croutons:

If you are trying to scale back the amount of simple carbohydrates you are eating, give this a try. When a salad calls for croutons (which are usually tossed in oil before cooked), mix in some nuts instead. Roasted almonds, pecans and walnuts make great high-protein, heart-healthy alternatives.