Friday Fit Tips - My top 5 healthy food swaps
Many people don't know just how easy it can be to lead a healthier lifestyle. There's no need to live in a gym or spend a ton of money on new programs or weight loss supplements (or ANY extra money, for that matter). One of my favorite ways to lead a healthier lifestyle is to find food "swaps" or alternatives to either unhealthy or high-calorie/chemical options.
Below are my Top 5 healthy food "swaps" that are sure to help lead a healther lifestyle & reach your health/wellness/fitness goals.
Food Swap #1 - MILK
While milk isn't necessarily unhealthy, it does pack a lot of calories & fat. Swapping to a lower calorie alternative can shave off a lot of weight. My favorite milk "swap" is Almond Milk. On the plus side, it's got a sweeter flavor than dairy milk, is low in sugar, low fat, low calorie, and offers more calcium than dairy milk. The only down side is it's less creamy than whole milk, but that's a mild sacrifice for the benefits.
Be sure to stick with unsweetened almond milk, as many companies offer sweetened, sugary versions as well. Other options are coconut milk & chia milk.
Food Swap #2 - BREAD
I love bread. Garlic bread, sandwiches, paninis, ciabatta, the list goes on. Many types of bread pack a lot of calories and carbs into not a lot of space, making them a less than healthy option. One 'swap' option is to pick a heartier, healthier bread such as multi-grain or whole wheat over traditional white. As a rule of thumb, the fewer ingredients and less "bleached" ingregients the better.
If you're lucky enough to find it, my all-time favorite is California lifestyle bread (pictured here) - this is a low carb, high fiber, high protein bread that tastes great and makes an amazing peanut butter sandwich. I get it at my local Sprouts, but you can probably find a similar product at any natural food store.
Food Swap #3 - WHITE RICE/PASTA
Rice and pasta are a dangerous game, not because they're entirely bad for you, but because it's so incredibly easy to eat so incredibly much. Next time you eat rice or pasta, measure out an actual serving size - I'm sure you'll be shocked at how small it is. Super high in starchy carbs, it's easy to pack away 500+ calories of this stuff without batting an eye.
A safer bet is to go with alternative starches/carbs, such as quinoa (my favorite) or quinoa-based pasta - high in protein and amino acids, quinoa offers a healthier (and in my opinion, better tasting) option. You can sub quinoa anywhere you'd normally use rice (my favorite is quinoa pilaf), and as a bonus, in many cases quinoa is faster to cook! Just be wary of portion sizes, as with any type of grain, a serving is smaller than you think.
Food Swap #4 - SALT
I think it's an American thing to put salt on everything. If someone sold salt on a stick, some of us would still sprinkle salt on it. While salt isn't terrible on it's own, the amount of it in the typical American diet is a surefire way to end up with poor health.
Since it's tough to avoid since nearly all packaged food is high in salt (soups, baked goods, meats, etc), it's best to avoid adding any extra while cooking or seasoning food - instead, find spice mixtures - these are a super healthy alternative that offer good side effects. Herbs & spices can not only add more flavor, but can easily tranform a simple item into many different flavors.
Some of my favorites are cayenne, garlic, ginger, lemon zest, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, and oregano. Experiment with some mixtures, and you'll find that you can pack more flavor into a much healthier option than the salt shaker can offer.
Food Swap #5 - SODA (or pop, or cola, or whatever you call it)
Soda reminds me of cigarettes. It's terrible, everyone knows it, yet no one blinks an eye before putting away a 20oz soda and immediately looking for another (a former coworker used to bring a 2 liter to work EVERY day). Basically a concoction of chemicals and sugar, the side effects of regular soda consumption are too many to list, but it's one of the worst "foods" you can put in your body.
Need the caffeine boost? Drink coffee or tea instead.
Need something sweeter than coffee or tea? Add some stevia to sweeten things up, or if you need that sweet fix, add a flavor enhancer to water. While I wouldn't promote a colorful powder (a la Crystal light) as a health food, it's a better option than guzzling a Dr Pepper (although...I love me some Dr Pepper - on occasion!)
If you can make the switch to water, that's your best bet.
Based on the 1 pound of fat = 3500 calorie formula, substituting one 20oz cola per day with water would shave off about 25 pounds over a year.
As you get ready to tackle that New Years resolution of losing weight or getting healthy, keep these food swaps in mind - they're much easier than hours in the gym, and much tastier than an air & sunlight diet.