Boost Your Health With These 12 Simple Food Swaps
Embracing a healthy diet may seem like a difficult task, but the process of establishing good nutritional hygiene doesn’t have to be stressful.
In fact, one way I work one-on-one with my clients, is to help educate them on how something as simple as making food swaps can be a powerful tool in increasing nutrient intake, reducing overall caloric consumption, minimizing inflammation, encouraging weight loss, and promoting immune system and overall health.
The following are some ideas to get you started:
1. Avocado Oil Instead of Canola Oil
Had you ever considered that over 90% of canola oil is genetically modified? Additionally, it's a refined often partially hydrogenated oil that can contribute to inflammation and other health concerns.
Avocado oil on the other hand is an excellent source of monounsaturated fats which have been proven to have anti-inflammatory effects on the body. It also has a high smoke point, so it can be used in a range of recipes as well as drizzled on salads, veggies, or protein.
2. Substitute Stevia for Sugar
By now, it should be no secret that sugar is a a pro-inflammatory food that can lead to a variety of health issues when consumed in excess, including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and mood disorders.
Stevia- on the other hand- can actually support healthy blood sugar levels, which is why it’s often recommended as a natural sweetener for diabetes. It contains zero calories and zero carbs, making it a healthier option than sugar and artificial sweeteners and unlike sucralose, stevia has not been shown to have any negative impact on the balance of healthy bacteria in your gut.
3. Swap Soda for Seltzer
Soda is loaded with sugar. In fact, there are 39 grams of sugar in one 12 ounce can of Coke. That's 10 tsps of sugar! Unfortunately, due to the artificial sweeteners, diet soda is no better.
Instead, try seltzer! Like soda, it is also carbonated, but it contains zero calories or sugars. You can experiment with adding some fresh lemon or lime juice and a few drop of stevia for added sweetness. To make it even more enjoyable, pour it over ice in a fancy glass to create the sensation of indulgence.
4. Choose Plain Raw or Organic Yogurt Over Conventional Flavored Yogurt
Conventional yogurts are over-processed, loaded with unwanted sugars, and have added thickeners and sweeteners for better taste and texture. These gums and stabilizers are foreign to your body and can act as irritants to your digestive system, unnecessarily flaring your immune system and perpetuating inflammation.
On the other hand, plain raw yogurt is rich in probiotics and healthy bacteria. And did you know that yogurt from sheep and goat milk may also be easier to digest than yogurt made from cow milk? Plain, organic, grass-fed yogurt is also a good option because it’s minimally processed and will supply healthy probiotics.
5. Swap out Spaghetti for Zoodles
Flour-based noodles, like spaghetti, are a highly concentrated source of refined carbs. And at over 200 calories per cup, spaghetti doesn‘t contain many nutrients, making it a high calorie low nutrient dense food and not really the best option.
If you enjoy pasta, try zoodles! These strands of zucchini are nutrient-rich, very low in calories and carbs, and can bring that same pasta sensation to your meal as spaghettI. As a bonus they help to increase your vegetable intake. They are also gluten free, rich in fiber, vitamins A, C and B, and potassium.
6. Substitute the Bun for a Lettuce Wrap
Carbs have a bad reputation because of things like burger buns. There are many healthy and beneficial carb sources, but buns and white bread are made with refined carbs, the kind that can lead to inflammation and digestive problems. They are also high in calories, and if you're trying to lose weight, reducing your consumption of foods like this is a simple way to lose unwanted pounds.
Using a lettuce wrap for your grass-fed burger or sandwich is an excellent way to reduce your overall calorie and processed carb intake. It's also delicious, light and fresh! Wedge the burger between two mounds of iceberg lettuce or use big iceberg lettuce leaves to wrap it.
7. Substitute Grilled Chicken for Deli Meats
Deli meats and all processed meats, including hot dogs, bologna, turkey, ham and chicken meat are often packed with fillers, preservatives, salt and sugar. They can make you feel moody and bloated, and give you a headache. Nitrates can cause nausea and migraines.
But grilling your own chicken to slice and add to salads and sandwiches is a much healthier option. You can choose free range, high quality chicken, sustainably raised and ethically treated, and at the same time, you’ll avoid a ton of additives and will be able to control what ingredients go into your body.
8. Whole Grains Over Refined Carbs
Refined carbs like pastas, white bread, crackers, cookies and muffins are unfortunately, not the healthiest options when it comes to losing weight or reducing inflammation. These types of foods are usually packed with added sugar which can drive up inflammation and negatively impact your blood sugar levels.
Whole grains including oats, quinoa, buckwheat, farro and barley are highly nutritious, provide fiber, promote heart health, improve blood sugar control and may even aid in weight loss.
9. Substitute Organic Fruits and Veggies for Non-Organic Options
While eating fruits and vegetables is always a smart, healthy choice, the non-organic options contain neurotoxins and bacteria that disrupt your gut health. Plus, non-organic produce has been sprayed with pesticides which can act as endocrine disruptors and cause hormonal imbalance and inflammation in the body.
It’s best to choose organic produce whenever possible. You at least want to buy the organic options for the “dirty dozen” foods that are most often contaminated with harmful pesticide levels.
10. Try Oatmeal in Place of Your Breakfast Cereal
Breakfast cereals are made with refined sugar and some pretty sketchy additives, including colorings and preservatives.
Oatmeal is a nutrient-rich breakfast option. It is high in fiber, so it makes you feel full longer, and it helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and promote bowel regularity. To step it up a notch, opt for gluten free!
11. Choose Dark Chocolate Over Milk Chocolate
The nutrition value of milk chocolate is minuscule compared to dark chocolate. It’s made with milk powder or condensed milk, which gives it that creamier flavor, so it has a higher sugar content than dark chocolate and can be a potential allergen.
Dark chocolate, when consumed in moderation, can benefit your heart, brain, eyes and more. It’s rich in antioxidants, including flavonoids and polyphenols, which fight free radical damage to your cells. Look for high quality, high cacao content dark chocolate and enjoy it in moderation.
12. Substitute Homemade Pizza for Frozen or Take out Pizza
Had you ever considered that frozen pizzas are loaded with preservatives, additives and unrecognizable ingredients? And ordering from a pizzeria is a surefire way to consume a ton of unwanted salt, fat and processed carbs.
Pizza is one of the easiest meals to health-ify at home. By being creative, you can easily stay in control of the ingredients. Try making your own pizza dough using low inflammatory gluten free flour. You can even prep it ahead of time and keep it in the freezer until you need it. Or you can try a cauliflower crust pizza as a great way to up your veggie intake at the meal and reduce overall calorie consumption. Load your pizza with lots of fresh veggies, marinara, and some shredded chicken for a boost of protein.