Fitness Facts: Simple food swaps

May 04, 2021 / by / 0 Comment

By Liz Cook
Registered Dietitian, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic

One thing I always try to stress as a dietitian is that healthy eating doesn’t have to be hard.

With all the messaging out there about how to eat healthier, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. However, if you focus on small changes and simple swaps, the path to a healthier lifestyle is much more attainable.

Today we’ll run through 10 shifts that you can make to help your overall diet to look and feel better this summer:

Swap refined grains for whole grains: This is a simple change that can make a big difference in the nutrient content of your meals and snacks. Instead of buying white bread, white rice and white tortillas, switch them out for whole wheat and/or whole grain products. Look for 100% whole wheat bread, brown rice and wheat tortillas. Whole grains contain more fiber, vitamins and minerals than refined grains, which can improve your digestion and energy levels.

Pick a better pasta: Pasta falls into the grain category, so picking a whole wheat pasta is going to be a more nutritious option than a traditional white pasta. However, there are ton of other healthy pasta alternatives available now, so why not try a few? Chickpea pasta and lentil pasta are two legume-based pastas that contain more protein and fiber than traditional wheat-based pastas, and they still taste great.

Look for leaner proteins: When picking your protein sources, choose lean proteins more often than higher fat proteins. Chicken, fish, tofu and eggs are great lean protein sources. When purchasing something like ground beef, look for a lower fat percentage, such as 93/7 instead of 80/20.

Go for Greek yogurt instead of classic yogurt: Greek yogurts have more protein than traditional yogurts, which will help you feel full for a longer period after breakfast. Additionally, purchasing a plain, unflavored, unsweetened yogurt and adding your own fruit will save you some serious sugar. Try adding a drizzle of honey if you need a little sweetness. My favorite high protein yogurt is Siggi’s skyr.

Fruit is always a better choice than fruit juice: Fruit is packed with tons of beneficial vitamins and minerals, many of which are preserved when it is juiced, so fruit juice will still give you some benefits. However, fruit is full of fiber, which is beneficial for digestion and lost when juicing. To get the full benefit of your fruit, eat it in the whole form instead of drinking it as juice.

Grab unsweetened or naturally sweetened drinks over sugary beverages: There are so many alternatives to soda and other sugary drinks at this point that I truly believe it’s just a matter of finding the one you like. Flavored sparkling waters are a great option for flavor without sugar, and stevia-sweetened sodas are a great compromise for those who want the sweetness without the added sugars and artificial sweeteners.

Air-fry instead of deep-fry: I assume most households have an air fryer at this point. If you don’t, it might be time to get one. Air fryers help you achieve the crispy exterior that traditional deep fryers give, without the unhealthy fats. You can cook anything from proteins to veggies to frozen foods in an air fryer, they’re quick and easy to use and they’re available everywhere.

Check your condiments: Many sauces and spreads are packed with sugar, saturated fats, preservatives and fillers. Choosing cleaner condiments is a simple way to cut out some of those unnecessary extras. Check out this no-sugar ketchup, yogurt-based ranch and a simple buffalo sauce for a few options.

Satisfy your salty, crunchy craving with something other than chips: Chips are high in saturated fats and not the best snack for optimal health. Air-popped popcorn is a great alternative for an afternoon snack. Whole grain crackers are another alternative to try when that afternoon craving hits.

Last but not least, swap sugary granola bars for higher protein options that will fill you up when you need a midmorning or midafternoon snack: Three of my favorites are KIND, RX, and gomacro bars.

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