If you want to start eating healthily, there’s a lot of homework that it seems you need to do. Learning about the nutritional goals you need to meet, from macros to vitamins and minerals, and which foods help you meet them can all be a lot to take on at once. While you’re still hitting the books, there’s an easier way to make an immediate difference. Here, we’re going to look at some of the foods that you can simply use to replace what you’re already eating. With a few healthy switches, your habits can already contribute a lot more to your goals.
Swap sandwiches for salad
If you think about it for a little while, it’s easy to see that salads are mostly sandwiches but without the bread. Bread is easily one of the biggest contributors to the weight management problems that many of us have struggled with. Those carbs can be very difficult to get rid of and stop us from shifting fat. By simply increasing the volume of the salad ingredients you would normally put into that sandwich, you’re already incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet. Add some healthy, lean meats like prawns or chicken in there and you have plenty of flavor as well. Just don’t go too crazy on the salad dressing.
Swap snacks for popcorn
In an ideal world, you wouldn’t be snacking. Grazing, the act of returning for little nibbles of food throughout the day, messes with your appetite and causes you to eat more per day than you should. However, if you don’t have the time to sit down and prepare a big lunch or you simply need the energy, snacks can help you ensure you’re not likely to turn to much unhealthier meals. Whatever you’re snacking on, however, popcorn might be a good replacement. It’s a low-calorie food that you can eat quite a lot of, so it can manage your cravings but without throwing your macros for the day off entirely. There’s some discrepancy between different popcorns, however, so avoid going for salted or toffee varieties.
Swap white rice for anything
Like bread and pasta, white rice is a staple that’s entirely too easy to eat a lot of. White rice has plenty of carbs, especially if you’re giving yourself larger portions, but very little essential nutrients outside of that. Brown rice, on the other hand, is a whole grain, which means it contains all the components of the grain that make it higher in fiber, manganese, vitamin B5, and a whole host of other vitamins and minerals. If you’re getting sick of brown rice, you can try replacing those empty calories with cauliflower rice, instead. You can make your own cauliflower rice pretty easily, too, so you don’t have to spend on the pre-made stuff.
Swap red meat for seafood
Red meat is very high in saturated fats. Those fats raise the level of the unhealthy kind of cholesterol in the blood, which puts you at much greater risk of heart disease and heart attacks. Lean, skinless chicken and turkey are often recommended as replacements, but the truth is that many kinds of seafood are both more flavorful and nutritious. It’s easier than ever to buy whole scallops thanks to the internet, which are 80% protein and low in calories, fat, and cholesterol. Other seafoods like salmon are high in hearty-health fatty acids. Discovering a love of seafood is easily one of the healthiest changes you can make to your diet.
Swap potatoes for parsnips (or sweet potatoes)
If you love a good stew, roast dinner, casserole or mash, then you might eat a lot more potatoes that you should. While they do have some protein content, they are mostly empty calories that you should try to limit, especially if you make fries or roast them. Sweet potatoes are a very easy alternative since you can do just about everything with them as you would normally do with a potato. However, for a different taste, parsnips can fill that role as well. They have a similar starchy texture that goes well in a casserole, but they’re lower in calories and are much higher in fiber, even if they don’t have as much vitamin C or protein. It’s easy to get sick of the flavor of either parsnips or sweet potatoes, so switching between them can help stop you from going back to regular old potatoes.
Swap chocolate for dark chocolate
Moderation is everything, so if you’re already eating tons of chocolate, eating tons of dark chocolate won’t make too much of a difference. That’s still too much sugar. However, if you’re looking for a dessert or the occasional bar as a snack, stay away from all those milk chocolate candy bars. Instead, a simple plain bar of dark chocolate is much better for you, as are desserts using it as an ingredient. It has more fiber, plenty of iron, magnesium, and copper, too. A single 100-gram bar will make up over half of your recommended daily intake of each of those three minerals alone.
Swap yogurt for other yogurt
The other yogurt we are talking about is, of course, Greek yogurt. Limiting your dairy intake is recommended, regardless, but if you have to eat any dairy, Greek yogurt is the kind you should be going for. It’s healthier than regular yogurt, for one. It might not have as much calcium, which you should keep in mind, and there aren’t major differences in how many calories each is, but it has much less sodium, less sugar, fewer carbs, and more protein. What’s more, it has probiotics which can help your gut health to improve your digestive abilities, helping you better absorb the vitamins and minerals from the food that you eat.
As time goes on, you should learn about which foods best help you get your nutritional requirements and balance your macros and calorie counting to best fit your goals. For now, however, these switches should help you make a big difference.