11 Simple Substitutes for a Healthier You
As a Health and Wellness Coach, one of the first things I aim to help people with, is the simple alterations you can make to your life and pantry without too much time, effort or money. To create a healthy lifestyle, you need to start small and only introduce a few new habits at a time. Jumping in at the deep end and trying to uproot your whole lifestyle, will rarely result in lasting changes. It is important to take one step at a time and allow the small successes to grow and encourage the next goals!
So here are a few small ingredients you can begin 2017 with, once those habits are formed and become inherent in your life, start building new ones!
1. Oil Oils are used every day in cooking, from frying to baking, it is hard to escape it! So a simple solution, which is slowly becoming more and more the norm in a healthy kitchen, is Coconut Oil. Whenever there is heat involved in your cooking, make sure it is your go to oil. Yes, it is a saturated fat, and yes, some saturated fats are bad for you! However, the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil allow it to withstand higher heats better than other oils, as it is stable enough to resist chemical change. Oils such as olive oil, although are great for raw cooking, i.e. salad dressings, once heated it becomes susceptible to oxidative damage.
2. Milk Removing some dairy from you diet will reduce a lot of daily fat and sugar (lactose) intake. Replace milk with unsweetened nut or coconut milks, which again adds good saturated fats from nuts into your diet. Ensure you are not using soy products, as these are not body friendly.
3. White rice Carbohydrates get a bad name for themselves and are essential in your diet, they are your energy, turned into glucose and used by the body to function in your day to day life. However, it is key you are consuming the right kinds of carbohydrates. By this I mean wholegrains! The reason rice is white, is it has been stripped of all the goodness, making the sugars too quickly digestible, creating sugar spikes and inevitably sugar crashes! The wholegrains ensure your body digests them slower, releasing the glucose to your body over time, and creating longer lasting energy. White rice can be replaced by numerous different wholegrains, such as, brown, black or wild rice, quinoa, buckwheat etc. Not to mention, if you are feeling creative, it only takes minutes in the blender to create yourself some cauliflower rice, a great way to introduce more veggies into your diet!
4. Potatoes Full of starch and again fast releasing sugars, potatoes are so easily replaced. Try roasting sweet potatoes, pumpkin or squash instead. These veggies are full of essential nutrients! These also work great for mash and boiled!
5. Pasta/Noodles A great alternative in pasta dishes is to use Zoodles instead (Zucchini noodles) – a spiralizer or grater is an essential addition to your healthy kitchen. Low carb, and full of nutrients, Zoodles are one of the best swaps you can make! Taking only minutes to chop up, they can be used either raw, boiled or fried. (One of my favourite recipes involves Zoodles and Homemade Avocado and Cashew Pesto!) Don’t be limited to zucchinis either, so many different vegetables can be utilised!
6. Chocolate Try buying 85-90% dark chocolate, and nibbling on a piece of that on the nights when you crave something sweet! I know at first the flavours are very different to sugary milk chocolate, but gradually your taste buds will adjust to the bitter tangs, and you soon will find average chocolate far too sweet! Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants and therefore you can actually feel good about it when you indulge!
7. Sugar Reducing sugar itself is one of the hardest changes to make! But like I said, start small! When you do need to add sugar, make sure it is brown or raw. Use alternatives such a Honey (which has great properties when raw and unprocessed) or Stevia (a plant based sweetener which does not spike blood sugars). One great way to start is to begin reducing your morning tea or coffee by half a spoon of sugar every couple of weeks (gradually this will allow your taste buds to get used to the new flavours). The more you reduce sugar in your diet, the more you will realise you don’t actually need it!
8. Dips Dips make great healthy snacks and lunches (carrots with hummus are definitely my favourite)! However, a lot of the time they are filled with cheap oils, high salt contents, preservatives and cream. Stick to fresh dips like hummus, pesto and guacamole…if you can make them yourselves, even better, as you have entire control over the ingredients used. They are a delicious way to help introduce many more raw veggies into your diet.
9. Bread Using the same notion around wholegrains discussed earlier, ensure you only buy wholegrain bread. Reading the labels is key, as just because it looks brown and has seeds, does not mean that only wholegrain flour is used. Often wheat flour is mixed in to reduce costs.
10. Meat High quality and organic meat can be highly beneficial for your body, as it is full of protein and red meat in particular, is a great source of iron. But make sure to swap out meat for fish a few times a week. It is a lot lighter on the stomach, and full of essential Omegas! It is also important to stay away from processed meats, such as hams and salami, they are incredibly high in trans fats.
11. Salt Salt can be a great flavour enhancer, however, we all know that there is too much salt in the modern diet, especially when you are not controlling how much is added. But the use of Himalayan Rock Salt is definitely the way forward. It is something you can add to your foods without the same guilt, and have confidence in knowing the minerals and sodium you are absorbing are actually benefiting your body. (A great article about the benefits of unprocessed salt http://foodmatters.tv/content/what-if-salt-could-be-healthy)
Use this list to inspire some simple changes and enhance the journey to becoming a healthier you!