Almost every one of us can afford to make healthier choices throughout our lives. Nobody is perfect and each of us has areas where we feel we can improve. Unfortunately, embracing a healthier lifestyle is often presented as an “all or nothing” thing. Think about it, how many times have you or someone you know made a New Years Resolution to get healthier and immediately jumped into an aggressive diet and workout routine? How many times has that failed?
Honestly, the best way to begin your journey to a healthier lifestyle is by starting out more slowly and with changes you can sustain. Make a few of these changes at a time until they become your new normal, and then embrace a few more! The most important changes that you can make in your healthier lifestyle are dietary. Yes, getting a proper amount of exercise is important, but for most people it will never be possible to out-exercise your fork. Doing hours of crunches and lifting weights won’t do you any good if you continue to eat huge amounts of sugars and refined carbohydrates.
With that in mind, we have put together a list of simple healthy substitutions that you can incorporate to start your journey toward greater health:
- Skip the Soda: This one is one of the most important suggestions we can make. You would be amazed how many people drink in more sugar and calories than they eat. The average medium sized cola (the kind that typically comes with meals) contains almost 200 calories and 46g of carbohydrates – almost all of which is sugar. Just a soda or two a day can totally sabotage a diet and exercise routine.
For a healthier alternative, try ice water with some fruit added to it or a squirt of flavoring. You can even use sparkling water to mimic the carbonation of a soda. This can save you a few hundred calories per day and allow you to not take in massive quantities of sugar!
- Cauliflower Carbs: Carbohydrates are a great source of energy and can be a wonderful comfort food. The problem is that most people eat entirely too much of it. There are several places in your food repertoire where carbohydrates like dough or potatoes can be substituted or supplemented with cauliflower to make a healthier option for you. For example, pizza crust can be made using cauliflower (add some parmesan cheese for a flavor boost), you can make a faux mashed potato with cauliflower and several pasta recipes are beginning to call for a reduced amount of noodles and to be supplemented with cauliflower. This offers a lower amount of carbs while maintaining the hearty feel of a pasta dish.
BONUS TIP: Quinoa is another great substitute for white starches
- Low Calorie Protein: What are your favorite sources of protein? If you’re not a vegetarian, there is a good chance that several of your favorites can be substituted for lower calorie options. For example, if you love hamburgers, you can try turkey, bison, ostrich or emu meat instead. Any recipe that calls for ground beef can be substituted or supplemented with any of those meats for a more body-friendly option.
Many dishes are just as good with chicken or shrimp as they are with beef or pork. You might even try some vegetarian protein choices like beans, peas, nuts, soybean products like tempeh & tofu and even seeds like chia, sunflower and sesame. Experiment to find the substitutions that work best for you!