Five Food Substitutions You Can Start Tomorrow
Sometimes we are under the impression that to gain success in weight loss and better health one must make some drastic changes. After all, we didn’t get into this position by having an extra carrot stick or two or over-indulging in green smoothies. We likely got into a routine and never managed to, or wanted to, find our way out. But what if I told you that getting out of those weeds can be as easy as the way we got in?
One thing nutritionists and trainers always seem to stress is that the place you are in now was not an overnight detour. Choices were made and, in truth, that is the only way to get right back on the path. But you don’t jump from the middle of the forest to the path. You find a clearing until you find another clearing and eventually these pathways lead you to certainty and safety.
Much like a lost path, finding one’s way to wellness usually starts with a couple decisions. Granted many of these are lifestyle, emotional or social. And sometimes it’s just the willingness to accept that it’s finally time to make a big change.
But right now let’s take those changes purely as manageable. As tangible. As choices we make every day in the kitchen. I’m not going to ask you to eliminate a food group. Or vilify a whole aisle in the grocery store. Rather, recognize that small changes that add up have far more effect and longevity than a large, stressful mandate of deciding what’s good vs bad. What if we just determined what was better?
Easy food swaps are different for everyone. But here are five examples of easy things that can be changed without much effort or sacrifice.
- Drinks. Swap water for soda and sugary juices. We all know that water is King, and we all know that we can splash a bit of juice or citrus in to change the mood. Not only is this a critical health swap, but its benefits change to your body and energy level immediately.
- Drive thru. There’s nothing more convenient that not leaving your car to but a meal. And even easier to not move and eat it while still in the seat. Swap this. Plan to pack lunch at least three times a week, and if you must grab something on the go, be mindful of sodium, sugar, and saturated fat.
- Fried foods. We all need a fry now and then. Life was meant for said moments. But said moments plus said moments equal bloating, bad skin, weight gain, cholesterol, and GI issues. Learn to moderate. Swap fried for baked or sauteed or even steamed. If you are indulging with an appetizer, eat clean for your main course and skip dessert. Limit the bad cholesterol most often found in high-calorie fried foods that offer little nutritional value. And once you start limiting the fat and sodium in fried meals, your taste buds not only adjust, but crave real food prepared outside the deep fryer.
- Red meat. Again, this swap is about moderation. Organic, grass-fed beef is not the enemy. A diet comprised of mostly red meat, is. Poultry, beans and legumes and seafood are great protein options. Start with Meatless Mondays and see how creative you can get.
- Protein in every meal. If your meals or snacks are filling but have little-to-no protein, you will not only be hungry soon, but you won’t be feeding your body, and metabolism, with the fuel and building blocks it need to repair tissue and muscle. This is the kindling to build a roaring metabolism fire. Swap sugary or empty-carb snacks for lean protein that will keep you full and from craving salt, sugar, and fat.
By making these small changes, so much will add up. You may find that your taste buds change when you limit the drive-through. You may feel more hydrated and awake when you start to crave the way your morning water makes you feel. You may like the byproduct of clearer skin from reducing fried food. Your cholesterol numbers may begin to improve from having red meat in moderation. And eventually you’ll realize that you’re not as hungry as you used to be because that little bit of protein in each meal is helping feel full until the next one.
Don’t be afraid to test out some swaps. This is how we find a new habit that not only is better for us, but that we never knew we were missing.