I’ve been following a mostly wheat free, yeast free and Paleo/ Keto friendly diet for several decades. I don’t believe in dieting, yet instead focus on foods that I enjoy with high nutrient density. The goal is HEALTH and not WEIGHT LOSS. Although, adopting a lifestyle where you can find healthy food swaps that are void of high sugar, processed foods will ultimately help shape the body that you want anyway.
Healthy Food Swaps Mean Making A Few Adjustments
You don’t need to have a “No Pain No Gain” mentality. Rather, look forward to meal time even if that means making a few adjustments… It’s not as difficult as you may think.
Below are some suggestions to help find some healthy food swaps for your meal planning:
1. Adding Leafy Greens and Fiber to Your Smoothies
Smoothies can be a great way to start the morning or a calorie bomb full of sugar (even if it’s natural sugar from fruit)! I have a smoothie every morning with a high quality protein powder, but I don’t use bananas or too much fruit. For creaminess – using a large handful of organic spinach, kale or even bok choy (yes it actually mixes well) can give your smoothie the right texture and then you’ll only need a few frozen strawberries or blueberries to provide sweetness.
Leafy greens are a healthy alternative because they contain a high water content which makes them hydrating – especially during a hot summer… They also have anti-oxidant properties, aid in detoxification, are full of vitamins and minerals, and are a good source of fiber (which will help to assist in elimination). Chia, Flax or Hemp seeds are another easy way to add in fiber, Omega -3’s and protein while further stabilizing blood sugar to keep you full for hours.
This just may be my favorite out of the healthy food swaps: Cauliflower recipes are probably the best thing that happened to people on a low-carb or grain free diet. It makes a delicious pizza crust, can be used in the place of rice, and can even fatten up your smoothies. Personally I’m too lazy to make my own rice or pizza crust, but due to its popularity, Trader Joes now has a cauliflower pizza crust and you can even buy a pre-made frozen cauliflower pizza pie in some health stores. The rice is also sold pre-made so you don’t have to slave in the kitchen. When making smoothies, try using a cup of cauliflower (which adds texture without a weird taste).
Cauliflower is one of the cruciferous vegetables that is great for combating inflammation, supports digestion and detoxification and contains only a fraction of the calories and carbohydrates that are in bread or rice. Additionally, it won’t impact your blood sugar in the same way- making it a healthier option for diabetics.
3. Bragg Liquid Aminos Instead of Soy Sauce
You can eat a seemingly healthy dish such as chicken and vegetables, or a tofu stir-fry, yet it often gets spoiled with sauces which contain wheat, gluten, added sugars and artificial ingredients that can cause inflammation, digestive discomfort, and weight gain. Instead, Braggs liquid aminos is one of the more natural healthy food swaps that I’ve learned to cook or marinate my foods with. If you order Asian takeout, ask for no sauce and use this instead.
4. Spiralized Veggie Noodles
Anyone with inflammation, autoimmune issues, or looking to lose weight should eliminate pasta – even if it’s whole grain or gluten free. The calories and carbohydrates are too heavy. As a substitute, spiralized zucchini noodles are one of the best healthy food swaps without having to spiralize zucchini by hand. Even though there are low-carb tofu noodles and other pasta swaps, these have more health benefits. They are a great source of fiber, vitamins and minerals and won’t ruin your diet. Add some turkey meatballs, broccoli and fresh tomato sauce and you have a deliciously, healthy meal without the guilt.
5. My 2 favorite dessert swaps
Too many of my clients get into “diet” desserts. This includes frozen yogurt with sugary toppings, ice cream substitutes etc. that are very hard to portion control. Eating a huge cup of fat free yogurt or a pint of a low-cal ice cream brand that claims to be only 300 calories is still problematic. Regardless of calories alone, who want to eat chemicals?! It’s better to eat portioned “real food” with nutritional value.
6. Non-Fat or Low-Fat Greek Yogurt with almond butter
Instead of an ice cream substitute or frozen yogurt, try one individual portion of unsweetened plain Greek yogurt. Pair this with 1 tsp or tbsp almond butter. You can add ½ Stevia packet and even a few dark chocolate chips (at least 70%). A snack like this is low-carb, high in protein, low in sugar, under 200 calories and full of probiotics for healthy digestion. I don’t believe that eating non-fat dairy is necessary. However, when you add on the almond butter it adds those extra grams of fat to keep you satiated.
7. Baked Apple
If you like apple pie, baked apple is a great alternative. You just have to core the apple, then place on a baking sheet. Use a little cinnamon, Stevia and sprinkle on a small amount of gluten free granola or dark chocolate chips. One apple alone can replace a slice of cake with a quarter of the calories and artificial ingredients. Baked apple provides fiber to keep you satisfied along with healthy antioxidants and polyphenols.