Most of us have grand dreams of becoming perfectly healthy eaters. Although this is a great goal to strive for, healthy eating habits will differ for most of us depending on one’s dietary needs or restrictions. Common diets can be daunting, and often promote unhealthy eating patterns. This is because diets are often more about counting calories and cutting carbs, which usually is not sustainable. Learning to replace unhealthy foods with more nutritious ones means less drastic diet changes which result in healthy habits that are easier to maintain. Instead of dieting, try making some of these swaps for foods commonly used in cooking.
1. Granulated/Processed Sugar
Processed sugar has become the number one worst product to consume. It is linked to weight gain, heart disease, and numerous other unwanted health issues. Instead of sweetening foods and baked goods with sugar, try one of these options instead:
Natural Sugar in Fruits
Remember, no added sugar is still better than either of these options, but if you need to satisfy that craving, these are better than regular sugar.
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Being extremely high in fat and heavily processed, margarine has been linked to numerous health issues. Many people do not realize butter and margarine are not the same. Although butter is high in fat, it still contains some nutrients like vitamins K2 and Omega-3. Instead of margarine try these alternatives:
Although grass-fed butter is better than margarine, it is still best used sparingly since it is still high in fat. In addition, grain-fed butter is better than margarine, but still has less nutrients than grass-fed butter.
Banana (best in baking)
Applesauce without added sugar (best in baking)
These last three alternatives are mostly natural ingredients that will have a more significant (positive) impact on your daily nutrient intake. Avocado has a very similar texture to butter which makes it a wonderful substitute. In addition, banana and applesauce (with no added sugars) act similarly to butter in baking while adding great flavor.
3. Vegetable Oils
Refined oils are right behind processed sugars for the least healthy foods you can eat. Instead of using vegetable oil (ex: canola oil), opt for one of these healthier, less-processed options:
Each of these alternatives are derived directly from plants so they come with natural health benefits and leave out the high-levels of fatty-acids.
4. White Bread
I’m sure most of you have heard that bread is bad, but in reality, whole-wheat bread can provide many nutrients. White bread, however, is essentially empty calories that cause weight gain and high sugar levels. The difference between the two is that white bread is made with refined flour, which is stripped of all nutrients, while whole-wheat foods contain the entire part of the grain. So, instead of buying white bread, make the switch to bread and other baked goods with whole-wheat flour instead.
Although these are just a few of the things that can be detrimental to your health, taking the first step to remove or reduce these unhealthy foods can have a profound impact on your diet and body. Remember to start small and work yourself into healthier eating habits in order to see sustainable, long term results. Everyone has setbacks when reaching for a goal, don’t be discouraged if you can’t always make these changes. Any attempt at eating healthier is still a step in the right direction, no matter how small it may be.