When it comes to eating healthy, one of the hardest steps to take is breaking bad habits. We get stuck eating foods that are easy, convenient, and tasty, but luckily there are healthy replacements for everyday foods that can help clean up our diet without giving up the foods we love. Taking these initial steps to help improve how you eat can make healthy eating easier down the line.
"People get stuck on unhealthy foods for a few reasons," says Lisa Hugh, MSHS, RD, LDN over email. "The food might have been a good decision or healthy choice at a given point in time but no longer is. Comfort foods like potato, bread, and macaroni and cheese bring back a lot of happy family memories. Some foods have addictive qualities, like processed foods, trans fats, added sugars, caffeinated drinks."
To get these foods out of your diet — while still enjoying what you eat — healthy substitutes can be a great solution. The more you get into the habit of making healthy swaps, the easier it will be to crave healthy foods and begin eating the types of meals that are clean and nutritious. If you want to start making small changes to your diet, try one of these seven healthy substitutes for everyday foods.
1. Fruity Seltzer Water For Soda
"A healthier version [of sweet drinks or soda] is club soda, seltzer water, or water flavored with sliced fruit or mint," says Hugh. Making this substitute will help you cut out the 39 grams of sugar found in a typical can of soda.
2. Sprouted Toast Instead Of A Bagel
"Instead of bagel go for a slice of Ezekiel toast instead," says Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN over email. "It is made of sprouted grains, contains fiber and protein, vitamins, minerals, and no sugar — a much better option as your vehicle for peanut butter or an egg than a refined, processed bagel."
3. Avocado Instead Of Cheese
"Replace your slice of cheese with avocado," says Glassman. "Cheese can play a role in a healthy diet, but we often over do it, and the cheese in your sandwich is usually processed and loaded with sodium on top of the saturated fat. Avocado is a whole, real food loaded with healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, and antioxidants."
4. Cacao Nibs For Chocolate
If you're a fan of chocolate chips, switch to cacao nibs instead. They give that same chocolatey crunch, but they don't contain sugar, and they are extremely high in antioxidants that help protect against high blood pressure and heart disease, according to Livestrong.com.
5. Brown Or Basmati Rice For White Rice
Instead of using nutrient-stripped, refined white rice, opt for brown rice instead, which contains more fiber. Or, if you're not a fan of brown rice, brown basmati rice is another good choice. "A lot of people don't like "regular" brown rice, but the basmati variety is more flavorful," says Hugh.
6. Zucchini For Pasta
Whether you use a spiralizer or just shave the vegetable into ribbons using a peeler, zucchini makes a great substitute for noodle dishes. Instead of refined carbohydrates, you now have a dish filled with fiber, vitamin A, potassium, and more.
7. Beans Instead Of Meat
Trying to incorporate more Meatless Mondays? Consider replacing your meat with some beans. "Swap in beans instead of meat as your easy protein," says Glassman. "Think chickpeas, black beans, pinto, or cannellini beans, edamame, or even black-eyed peas. Beans are high in fiber and protein while being low in fat, and they are filled with antioxidants."
Making small substitutions is an easy way to kickstart your healthy eating habits without getting overwhelmed.
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