I am SO excited to eat a huge bowl of kale & carrot sticks!”
Said no one ever! LOL
Unfortunately, these days you often have to choose between yummy (not so healthy) foods or six pack abs. Why can’t we have it all? In North American society, healthy convenience is like a unicorn—it just doesn’t exist.
Sometimes you just want comfort. Who wants healthier food options when you can just submerge into the deliciousness of junk food?
Is it really boring blanched almonds or a Big Mac eaten guiltily in your car on the way home?
Nope. You shouldn’t have to cry into your bowl of cauliflower every night.
And you don’t have to suffer to be strong. What if I told you, you could eat your way to healthy? I am not perfect and yes, I do eat junk food but I have definitely made some healthier food swaps as part of my daily lifestyle and I wanted to share them with you. Try these swaps for a week. And if you don’t feel any better? By all means, go back to eating junk! 🙂
Before November 2016 – After April 2017.
1. White Rice for Buckwheat Let’s talk about white rice. I am not saying to completely stop eating white rice. It just doesn’t have any ounce of nutritional value. Composed of carbs, small amounts of protein and virtually no fat, it’s buckwheat to the rescue! I’ve swapped white rice for buckwheat. Why buckwheat? Isn’t it wheat?
Don’t let the name fool you. Buckwheat belongs to a group of foods commonly called pseudo cereals which also include quinoa and amaranth. Buckwheat is not related to wheat, and is therefore gluten-free and celiac friendly. Its low on the Glycemic Index and the nutritional value is considerably higher many other grains. Although it is high in carbs, it’s also high in protein, fibre and has good fats. It’s also very delicious.
2. Animal Milk for Almond or Coconut Milk Then there is the milk question. My diet is, for the most part, dairy-free unless I’m going to indulge in a fro-yo. As human beings, we are not meant to digest animal milk, not to mention those poor cows that are pumped with hormones our bodies can’t digest. I went cold turkey on dairy and opted for coconut milk or almond milk, whichever the grocery store has. These are the best alternatives on the market not to mention that they’re vegan and don’t contain lactose. Quick Note: Be careful: there are different types of almond/coconut milk; try to stick with the unsweetened kinds. This is the healthier option of course.
3. Potato Chips for Home Made Chips? Let’s face it, who doesn’t like a bag of potato chips? But have you seen the nutritional facts on these bags? High in trans-fat. I’ve ditched the bag and opted in for homemade chips cooked with coconut or olive oil. I love to make sweet potato or even kale chips. They’re healthy and you control the oils that go into making this delicious snack. Remember it’s okay to indulge here but try to portion control your servings. P.S. If you are looking for a quicker option, try homemade stove popped popcorn as your go-to snack.
4. Milk Chocolate for Dark Chocolate I love chocolate, especially Nutella. I could literally eat the whole jar in one sitting and this fat kid has before! Who doesn’t love Nutella? I mean, it’s pure sugar that gives you an amazing high. But the after feeling makes you feel sluggish. Although dark chocolate is bitter, it helps curb your sweet cravings and is a better fix for your sweet tooth. It also has a wide variety of powerful antioxidants. Of course, you should invest in good quality stuff.
5. Bottled Water for Mineral Water This one is a little less obvious. Bottled water has to be treated and disinfected through filtration and contains hardly any minerals compared to mineral water. Natural mineral water is a good source of nutrients and provides extra benefits during consumption. It also helps with trying to get rid of toxins in your body when you go on a detox. It will be slightly more expensive but there are a ton of brands out there that will fit your budget and it’s totally worth it.
6. Whey Protein Powder for Pea Protein Powder Pea Protein? What the heck is that? You may be wondering. Although it sounds kinda strange, if you’re lactose intolerant or looking for a healthier option, opt for Pea Protein. Whey comes from dairy, it’s often filled with loads of fillers, additives and sweeteners.
You do NOT want that in your body. Be super careful about the flavored ones because they almost always contain sugar. Pea Protein is not exactly the most delicious thing in the world but your taste buds will adapt to it. Throw them into your smoothies and baking and you won’t even notice it’s there.
7. Salad Dressings for Olive Oil and Fresh Squeezed Lemon Everyone is in love with salad dressings and for a good reason. It just makes eating greens tastier. But have you ever seen the nutritional facts on that dressing bottle? It has a million ingredients which you can’t pronounce. Being of Mediterranean descent, I always grew up eating healthy foods—my problem was the portion control!
At my house, salads always contain two main ingredients: olive oil and freshly squeezed lemons. I grew up eating fattouche and tabbouleh. So whenever I am eating out and order a salad I either opt out for the dressing (because who needs all those calories when you are trying to eat clean?), or ask them for a side of olive oil and lemon wedges to make my own dressing. It’s easy. Add a little bit of spice and voila you’ve got a tasty salad.
8. Table Salt for Pink Himalayan Salt Are you the type of person that salts their food before they even try it? People need to be careful with the amount of salt they intake. It is likely to raise your blood pressure. According to the U.S Dietary Guidelines, a person should consume no more than 2300 mg of sodium on a daily basis. However, people are consuming between 3000 mg to 5000 mg daily. This is because majority of people don’t eat healthy foods and often eat processed products that contain a ton of sodium. So Table Salt for Pink Himalayan Salt.
Why? Well Pink Himalayan Salt is not chemically processed, it is natural.
Is also rich in Iodine and 80+ minerals and elements which can create electrolyte balance.
Regulates water content.
Balances pH and helps to reduce acid reflux.
Prevents muscle cramping.
Lowers blood pressure.
You get the point. Swap it out folks!
9. Conventional Meats for Organic meats Okay, so how many of you have been told organic meats are much better for you than conventional meats… but never really knew why? If you have read my story you know I suffer with PCOS. And with PCOS, it’s very important to focus on gut health.
Scientists have done many studies on the difference between the two types of meat focusing primarily on the fatty acid profile. Studies show that organic meats have more favorable fatty acids, a higher rate of Omega-3s which is great for reducing body inflammation.
In addition to the fatty acid profile, organic meats have no exposure to antibiotics which is harmful for humans to consume and may lead to weight gain. Organic meats are also hormone-free. In reality, these are minimal factors to consider when buying conventional or organic meats. If you care about your gut health, go organic.
10. Canned Foods for Non-Canned Foods Convenience is not more important than your health. Meal prepping is ideal and avoiding canned products. The canning process strips crucial nutrients. Plus preservatives are just not sexy. There’s a ton of salt in savory foods and tons of sugar in sweet foods. Holy syrup!
Yes, it can be a bit of a pain in the butt to cook your own food but do it in bulk with some loved ones, put on some dancing music and consider it a quality investment of your time. Feel free to do it yourself. There’s something romantic about pickling your own cucumbers, right? Bye bye tuna!
Tara Top 3 Tip Take-Away’s:
The more care and love you put into making your lunch, the less you’ll crave eating lunch out. Trust me, you won’t ditch your perfect meal 🙂
Check in with yourself. If you notice you are feeling sluggish midday and have no energy, check your source of energy intake. Maybe healthy food swaps are for you.
If you don’t understand the nutrition facts, then you probably shouldn’t be eating it! Educate yourself on what you’re putting in your body. Have some nerdy fun and become your own nutritionist. And hey, if you’re feeling tired or overwhelmed (or just plain lazy!) there are nutrition lovers like me who are happy to guide you!