While healthy eating is a hot topic today, many are still struggling. These 5 easy food swaps will help your family be healthier without the constant battle.
My husband and I have rarely struggled with our weight. While that may seem like a dream come true, it can be detrimental. We have hardly had an outward motivator to eat healthy. Bad food affects everyone, even if it doesn’t cause weight gain.
Then our baby was born. I very badly want him to have these habits built in. Bad habits are hard to break, so the best way to do it is never to start to begin with. But it’s kind of hard to go cold turkey on things that you’re used to.
To top it off, exclusive breastfeeding made me starving! Even today, while I still breastfeed twice a day, I get cravings. To shove down those cravings mean a constant struggle. To satisfy my cravings in a healthy manner is to actually resolve the problem.
The result of these easy food swaps: my baby does not know the difference. He will have a healthier diet built in to his routine. He will not need the junk as he has an adequate replacement. And, of course, he has healthier parents – which is a big blessing of course!
Food Swap #1: SALTY SNACKS
Yup, I get those cravings a lot. Don’t we all? Processed chips and such are fried and often contain chemicals, such as MSG and artificial coloring.
Alternative #1: Popcorn, of course!
Most people know that popcorn is a great alternative for potato chips. Be careful which popcorn you choose as many flavored varieties are still loaded with chemicals. Your best option would be to air pop kernels at home.
Alternative #2: Grated Cheese
I don’t know what the actual nutritional value you get there is, and too much will definitely be fattening. But a quarter cup of grated fat free cheddar (the white kind) will do you a lot better than that one ounce bag of chips! Plus you’ll be getting in some protein and calcium as well. And it can definitely satisfy the salty craving (it does for me).
Food Swap #2: SWEET ‘N BUBBLY
Soda is awful. And it’s not just about the calories. It’s about the caramel coloring that’s often found inside. Plus the phosphoric acid. There’s caffeine. There’s high fructose corn syrup. And if none of the above concern you, there’s definitely loads of processed sugars. Diet sodas have awful chemical based sugar alternatives. And, of course, if that’s not good enough reason to stop, the average can of soda has 150 calories.
Alternative: Juice + Seltzer
For years, my husband completely cut coke out of his diet. It was more of a self-imposed challenge, to see if he can do it. He could. Even if you get rid of the worst, and still have a lesser evil, you are already a step ahead.
BUT…. You CAN get rid of it totally. Even if you’re addicted. This past weekend I was sitting with a cup of root beer and a cup of juice diluted with seltzer and I honestly preferred the juice.
Diluting a natural fruit juice with seltzer gives you one serving of fruit, is more thirst quenching and lacks the chemicals that sodas have.
While a cup of juice is rather high in calories – an average cup of apple juice has 117 of them – diluting it with seltzer makes it much more reasonable. It also gives the fizzy touch that soda has and I honestly like it better this way. Plus, you’re getting in nutrients in those calories as well.
Food Swap #3: SWEETENED YOGURTS
Flavored yogurts often have syrups and artificial coloring added. While this may not be the worst of all your evils, if you can make a swap for the better – why not? You won’t even be able to tell the difference! Plus, I think it comes out cheaper too.
Alternative: Plain Yogurt + Applesauce
My sister taught me to give my independent minded baby yogurt in a straw sippy cup so that he can self-feed. This led on to mixing it together with fruit so that he can self-feed the fruit serving as well.
Yogurt is a great food to incorporate in your diet – especially those with probiotics. Mixing a plain variety with pureed fruit of any kind adds the sweetness you crave, while eliminating added sugar and coloring. Be careful, though, not to use an artificial apple sauce that has added sugars as well. My favorite option is to make my own fruit purees. You can add fresh fruit as well to perk it up.
Food Swap #4: CHOCOLATE MILK
Yeah, I know. The kids need their calcium. So do I. They don’t drink plain milk. Neither do I. You know what? My mom happens to be a genius. She has the perfect replacement…
Alternative: Blackstrap Molasses
When my brother was a toddler he would ask my mother for a bottle of “mi-glasses”. This wholesome sweetener is very flavorful and goes very well with milk. You can use it as you would chocolate syrup. But, you’ll also be getting loads of additional vitamins and minerals, as opposed to the empty calories and chemicals in chocolate syrup.
Blackstrap Molasses is an excellent source of iron and calcium. So by adding it to milk, you’re not only not destroying it – you’re actually adding to it. You can read more health benefits of blackstrap molasses here.
Food Swap #5: BOTTLED DRESSINGS
I’m sure you’ve heard about those evils already. I mean, I hate ranting about how evil the world is. But the bottom line is: if you can take out something and replace it with something better, why not? It’s better for you and your children!
So yeah, bottled dressings are full of… all of the above. Coloring. Sugar. High fructose corn syrup. MSG. And I’m sure there’s more. But if it’s the only way you’ll eat your lettuce you might not want to give up on it so fast.
Alternative #1: Olive Oil
Go for a very flavorful robust olive oil such as this one. You may want to add a touch of lemon juice too. You’re not only eliminating all the garbage in a bottled dressing, but you’re replacing it with a healthy choice.
Alternative #2: Avocado
Sometimes a light olive oil based dressing just won’t do it – especially when you’re used to the creamy mayonnaise based dressings. This is when avocado is a perfect alternative. While it’s also not a low fat item, it contains some of the healthiest fats you can get and some wholesome goodness instead of the garbage.
You can check out this delicious roasted tomato wheat berry salad recipe that uses avocado to add creaminess to the texture.
Replacing these items for new ones can help make cutting the out easier. You won’t be missing out on much and your overall health will be improved. Bringing these lifestyle changes to my baby is my gift to him.
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