I get asked all the time what my alternatives are to some of the “not so healthy” food favorites. So I thought I would compile a list for you all to make it an easy, one stop shop! So here it is, my list of healthy alternatives to your favorite foods!
I want to emphasize the fact that my biggest concern is eating REAL food. Whatever you are eating can have 8 ingredients in it, just make sure none of them are chemicals…or added sugar. Our bodies have no idea what those chemicals are. Think about the days that we didn’t have to label our food with ingredients..or with “organic”, “grass-fed”, “locally grown”. Let’s eat like we don’t need labels. I am going to also give you a little disclaimer here….FAT-FREE, LOW-CALORIE, LOW-CARB, etc are not better for you. Most of the time that means there are more fillers and preservatives in it to make it that way. So your solution…always read the label.
This can be tricky…and a lot of people just don’t do it because they don’t know what they are looking for. So here are what I look for when reading labels (although it’s best to just buy whole foods, I know we sometimes need those packaged items):
• Ingredient list under 10
• No trans fats (these increase LDL Cholesterol)
• Does not include added sugar
• Does not include: canola oil, hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup
• Check the serving size (sometimes the amount of carbs, fats, and protein seem awesome but that is because it is for a tablespoon)
• Check the sodium levels; typically somewhere between 500-600mg per meal. No more than 2,000mg a day
• No added preservatives: sodium benzoate, sodium nitrate, sodium sulfite, BHA, BHT,
• No artificial colorings: avoid anything like “Red#5” or “Blue#2”
• No artificial sweeteners: sucralose, aspartame, cyclamate, Neotame, saccharin, acesulfame potassium, sorbitol.
Those are some of the things I look for when I am checking labels. I know all of your food isn’t going to be free of all of these things, but it is important to make a conscious effort to limit your intake of them!
These are my top food switches I like to make a staple in my diet. Not to say the other option cannot be eaten in moderation, but l like i said, these are just healthier switches you can make in your everyday life.
• Natural peanut butter/nut butter instead of regular (contains a lot of added sugar)
• Dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate (even better if it is organic, few ingredients and has some nuts or seeds in it for added protein and healthy fats)
• Greek yogurt over regular (again, a lot of added sugar)
• Greek yogurt over sour cream
• Olive oil/coconut oil/avocado oil not vegetable oil
• Natural sugar sources instead of refined (honey, maple syrup, cacao)
• Natural flavors instead of “calorie free” (stevia)
• Coconut aminos instead of soy sauce
• Dairy free milk (coconut/almond) instead of regular (some people tolerate dairy, but a lot of it isn’t great for anyone because it is so processed)
• Bean based pasta instead of regular
• Spinach /Kale instead of romaine
• Grass-fed/farm raised meats over pasteurized and factory.
• Fiber over starch (pick carbs that are fibrous instead of starchy/beans, greens, veggies)
• Riced cauliflower over rice (not always, but sometimes)
• Zucchini/cauliflower pizza crust instead of regular
• Butternut squash in your mac n cheese instead of pasta
• Chia seed pudding (soaked in almond milk or cashew milk) instead of regular pudding
• La Croix or Kombucha instead of Soda
• Mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes
• Nuts instead of croutons
• Coconut/almond flour instead of bleached flour
• EVOO + balsamic vinegar over ranch dressing
• Oatmeal instead of granola (unless in small amounts on yogurt)
• Broth based soups instead of cream
• Coconut sugar instead of refined sugar
I know a lot of us have that one food that we CANNOT give up. We crave it and it totally satisfies us and makes us feel better. But what if you could find a healthier alternative to that? Not to say that you can NEVER eat those cravings, because I am a true believer in balance and living, but if you find a healthier version you get to have it more frequently without jeopardizing your progress.
• POPCORN? Roast nuts in a pan with some grass-fed butter
• CHIPS? Roast Kale in the oven until it crisps up
• FRENCH FRIES? Try roasting turnips instead (but even baking rather than frying is better)
• FRUITY CANDY? Frozen grapes are a really great sweet treat
• CHOCOLATE? Dark chocolate is great! But the possibilities are endless
• PUDDING? Make it with avocados instead! Super simple recipe found here
• ICE CREAM? Try making your own with frozen bananas!
• NACHOS? Make your own by roasting sweet potatoes or zucchini as the chips.
• SODA? Try drinking a La Croix or a different carbonated drink (without all the sugar and junk)
• PANCAKES/WAFFLES? Super simple recipes out there using protein powders. You can find my favorite Chia Seed Waffle recipe on my Facebook page
As I said before, this is not meant to shame certain foods. I am simply just giving my opinion on alternatives you can use to clean up your nutrition a bit and focus on whole foods. This is not meant to be medical/nutritional advice as I am not a doctor or registered dietitian.
Eating these foods in moderation is not going to set you back (one pizza won’t make you fat and one salad won’t make you skinny). I encourage you to enjoy your favorite foods here and there for the sake of your sanity, and your happiness. But it is ideal that we begin to eat more foods from the Earth and less foods from a production plant.
I hope this has helped you in some way and you can use it as a resource in the future! You can also check out my blogs on macronutrients and popular diet trends to learn more about nutrition as a whole. And as always, don’t forget, small changes add up to big results!