Carb Swaps:
How to Eat a Sandwich in the Low Carb Era

cartoon sandwich

What are you gonna do when you wanna eat a sammie?! Are carb swaps the answer to how to survive the low carb craze?

  • Sammie
  • (Sam-ee)
  • Noun, informal
  • a sandwich

It requires bread, doesn’t it? Ug... Those dreaded carbs always want to rear their ugly heads. What’s a bariatric warrior to do?

a). Just eat the bread and try to be perfect tomorrow

b). Eat it really fast while no one is watching so it won’t count

c). Use whole wheat bread and everything will be ok

d). Use low carb bread and think “I’ve got this!”

e). Use a carb swap

f). Make a veggie swap

And the correct answer is…

… f!

Yes a veggie swap is a step above the rest…a, b, c, AND even d and e.

Here’s why…


Definition: Carb Swaps

Interestingly, the term carb swap can’t be found in the Merriam-Webster dictionary Urban dictionary, or any other dictionary I checked. (Yours truly has submitted her definition and a request to Wikipedia to publish). Yet it’s a common phrase used in the weight loss world and a google search returns 24,000,00 results.

If you haven’t heard of it, here's what it would look like in a dictionary:

  • Carb Swap
  • (carb swap)
  • Noun, informal
  • Refers to a dietary strategy where you replace high carbohydrate foods with lower carbohydrate options. The goal is to reduce overall carbohydrate (CHO) intake to potentially improve health markers such as blood sugar and weight.

It's like a tango with your plate - you take out the high carb partners and bring in some low carbohydrate replacements, leading to a healthier and lighter dance with your diet.

Now, swapping carbs in your diet might sound like a surefire way to avoid those pesky extra pounds. And going low-carb can certainly be a tempting prospect, especially in the bariatric world where CHOs seem to get all the blame for expanding waistlines.

But, like most things in life, it's not that simple. Just because a food has fewer carbs, doesn't automatically make it a healthier option.


A carb swap can STILL lead to a low carb junky food choice.

Low carb cookies are still cookies at the end of the day, people!! Sure, it may have fewer CHOs than its regular counterpart, but let's not forget that cookies are still loaded with sugar, fat, and all sorts of other ingredients that might not be doing your waistline any favors.

And swapping (no carb) vodka for a (high carb) banana at breakfast isn't exactly the epitome of a smart nutrition choice or a good way to start your day.

veggie swaps

Definition: Veggie Swap

So I always use the term “veggie swap” instead.

“Veggie swap” is also NOT found in the dictionary… yet.

  • Veggie Swap
  • (veggie swap)
  • Noun, informal
  • A veggie swap is the act of replacing high carbohydrate, high calorie, or unhealthy foods with vegetables in a diet or meal plan.

The goal of a veggie swap is to increase the consumption of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and reduce the overall calorie intake. This can help to promote weight loss, improve overall health, and increase energy levels.

Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Swapping high calorie, low nutrient foods with low calorie, high nutrient dense foods…

…is a swap you want to write home about. (And one I wrote to Wikipedia about.)

Now we’re on to stellar nutrition!

Trade In:

  • rice for cauliflower rice
  • pasta for spiralized carrots, beets, or zucchini
  • French fries for air fried turnips or parsnips

Say adios to bread and “low carb bread,” in favor of:

  • Lettuce wraps
  • Cucumber rounds
  • Zucchini boats

And use green or red cabbage leaves…or even jicama…in lieu of tortillas for those tasty tacos Tuedays. My Veggie Swap Pinterest board is certain to inspire you with even more ideas.

Remember, you not only get a carb and calorie reduction by making veggie swaps, you get a fiber, vitamin, and mineral BOOST.

…Not exactly what you get when you simply do a swap for low carb cookies in lieu of the favorite ol’ chocolate chippers.

Sinister 7

I’ve identified a carb list I call “The Sinister 7.” These are our most beloved carbs, and a great place to start with your veggie swaps:

  • Bread
  • Tortillas
  • Pasta
  • Rice


  • Potatoes
  • Snack Foods
  • Cold Cereal

My video tutorial on carbs and calories (it’s an oldie, but goodie!) will give you further inspiration and visuals for veggies swaps on these Sinister 7. (The info starts ~ 1 minute into the video)

The Bottom Line for Your Bottom Line:

Remember that reducing a food to it’s numbers (carb grams) and choosing a food based on what it doesn't have, is NOT the best way to ensure optimal choices. After all, a nutritious diet is about so much more than just counting carbs.

Think “veggie swaps” vs “carbs swaps.” This will lead you to the most nutrient dense, lowest calorie options…

...Which translates to better health and a smaller waistline.

Oh, and veggie swaps taste good too!

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