Choose THIS Over THAT: Healthy Food Swaps
- Are you interested in eating healthier but don’t know where to start?
- Would you like to break up with the unhealthy foods in your life?
- Would you like to know what heather foods you could replace them with?
- Are you worried that replacing foods your family enjoys with something healthier won’t taste as good?
- Are you interested in switching to a whole food-based diet but don’t know where to begin?
Healthy Food Swaps: Surprising Healthy Food Alternatives You May Not Have Thought Of
For anyone interested in switching to a whole food-based eating plan, it can be overwhelming.
The first challenge lies in giving up some of your favourite foods. The second challenge becomes what you can eat instead.
Whether you have chosen to follow more of a Paleo, ketogenic, plant-based, or low-carb high-fat eating plan or if you are simply looking to improve your overall diet for general health benefits, the healthy food swap guide below should provide plenty of healthier options for you.
Bear in mind that not every option on this list is right for every person.
Protocols like Paleo remove grains and dairy, so if your are following a Paleo approach, ignore mentions of cheese and dairy. However, if you are following a Keto or LCHF plan which limits carbs and increases healthy fats, embrace the cheese and full-fat dairy options.
Which ever eating plan you have chosen, let the following “Choose THIS Over THAT” list help you discover some delicious and creative options!
Why should you start choosing THIS over THAT?
Let’s take a closer look at why replacing some of these foods may be just the step you need to jumpstart your journey to improved health.
White Potatoes - Though the white potato, eaten with skin, can be nutritious when consumed with foods low on the glycemic index, there are also drawbacks. First most of us don’t consume the skin, so most of the nutrients and fibre in the potato are stripped when we strip away the skin. Second, eating a white potato on its own (with a GI of 85) will quickly spike blood sugar levels and can cause insulin management issues. So, if you are already overweight, eating potatoes on a regular basis is probably not advised, especially is doused in butter and bacon bits! The combination of fat and carbohydrates is a main driver of obesity.
French Fries - The problem with french fries lies mainly in the “frying”. The oils used for frying often begin as poor quality hydrogenated oils, which is bad news to start with. When heated at the high temperatures required for frying, the oil becomes deadly as it oxidizes. Oxidized and damaged oils cause free radicals to wreak havoc in our bodies, creating a recipe for disease - namely inflammation, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
Refined White Sugar - Check out my first post on the harmful effects of sugar. In general, anyone wishing to improve their health should start by reducing the amount of refined sugar they consume.
Artificial Sweeteners - There are as many, if not more, negative health impacts associated with “sugar substitutes” than with white sugar itself. Most notably, these chemically processed substances, including aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin are toxic. They change the metabolic pathways of our gut microbiome, and cause many side effects - migraines, hypothyroidism, and cancer to name a few.
Potato Chips - Potato chips are high in fat and calories which causes weight gain and obesity. They also have no nutritional value but are high in sodium, which can cause high blood pressure and cravings for more. Most chips are deep-fried in rancid oils, as well. This creates trans fats that cause oxidative damage, inflammation, and chronic disease.
Microwave Popcorn - Though the smell is intoxicating and its hard to walk past someone eating microwave popcorn without reaching for a handful, I implore you to think twice before you do. The many health risks associated are simply not worth it! For starters, the bags are often lined with PFOA, a toxic chemical found in teflon that can stay in the environment (and our bodies) for a long time. When heated, this toxin has been linked to infertility and cancer. If that’s not reason enough to stay away, most microwave popcorn contains partially hydrogenated oils, natural and artificial flavours and colours, propyl gallate (linked to skin rashes, breathing problems, and stomach issues), TBHQ (a preservative made from toxic butane gas), and other GMO oils and emulsifiers. To top it off, the corn used is not organic, so it contains harmful pesticides, too. Any one of these reasons alone should be enough to stay away - but when combined and neatly packaged into one bag, the combination can be deadly!
Non-fat or Low-fat Milk - Studies have shown that when people reduce the amount of fat they eat, they tend to replace it with sugar or carbs - both of which have worse effects on insulin and diabetes risk. The processing that milk goes through on its journey to become reduced-fat or non-fat also poses problems, as pasteurized milk has been found to contain up to 20 different chemicals including antibiotics and steroids.
White Flour (including pasta, bread, and white flour products) - White refined flour has no nutritive value and is almost all starch, which causes blood sugar spikes and leads to diabetes. What’s worse is that the chemical treatments used during the refining process form a poison called alloxan. Alloxan is used in medical laboratories to produce diabetes in healthy mice! It creates many free radicals that destroy pancreatic cells responsible for producing the insulin that regulates blood sugar. Without these important cells, we cannot produce insulin, and develop diabetes.
High-carb, Sweet Fruit - The large amounts of fructose in sweet fruits make them taste delicious, but because they are quickly absorbed by the body, they spike blood sugar levels. Too much of any form of sugar can cause problems. And for people following a low-carb eating plan, sweet fruits are high in carbohydrates and should be limited.
Soda - Soft drinks are packed with sugar and empty calories. Sugar-sweetened soda spikes blood sugar levels and increases our risk of diabetes and other chronic conditions. But did you know that soda also negatively affects bone health? It contains a lot of phosphorus, but no calcium. When there is more phosphorus than calcium in our bodies, our bone health deteriorates.
Whole Grains - Most whole grains have been processed, resulting in a reduction of natural antioxidants and fibre content. Processed whole grains are also not intact, so some people absorb the sugars in them faster, resulting in blood sugar spikes, increased hunger, and insulin resistance. Grains also contain indigestible components, like gliadin, which are hard to digest, and contribute to a leaky gut, allergy symptoms, and inflammation.
Canola, Safflower, Corn, Soybean, Sunflower & Safflower Oils - There are three main arguments against the use of these common cooking oils. First is the processing the oils go through. They are processed at such high temperatures that they become damaged, their chemical composition altered, and they cause free radical damage. During processing, they are bleached and de-waxed, not to mention bathed in toxic chemical solvents, neutralizers, and deodorizers that we were never meant to consume. Second, these oils are too high in omega 6 and too low in omega 3 fatty acids. This imbalanced ratio with too much omega 6 is known to cause inflammation and many inflammatory diseases including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, IBS, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune disease, and cancer. Third, when we cook with these already damaged and rancid oils, they become even more damaged and rancid, resulting in further oxidative and free radical damage.
Hydrogenated Fats - I already touched on hydrogenated oils earlier, but it’s worth repeating here. Hydrogenation is an industrial process that adds hydrogen to fats and oils, which causes it to become solid at room temperature and have a longer shelf-life. But the trans fats created by this process cause inflammation, and the calcification of arterial cells, which increase our risk of disease.
Margarine - Margarine was a good idea gone terribly wrong! Again, the fats used have been hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated (just as bad). Additional chemicals, additives, and preservatives that we are not meant to consume are also added to aid its shelf-life. Studies also show that margarine can increase cholesterol levels while increasing risk of caner and heart disease.
I realize this is quite a long list. I also realize that for most people, a drastic change in diet overnight is unlikely to last. This is usually why the diet industry profits from high rates of obesity in this country. People start a new diet all gung-ho, but because it is usually so restrictive or requires such dramatic changes to be made all at once, sustaining it for any length of time is usually very difficult.
By making small, easy changes for the better, we will start to see improvements in our overall health and mental wellness. Once we start to see these improvements, we will realize we are on to something good.
The good news? Once you start to see results and discover how good you feel, you will want to make more positive changes to feel even better!
Everyone deserves to feel this good!
If you’d like to start making more positive changes to your dietary or lifestyle habits and need some support - I’m here for you.