HEALTHY DIET CHANGES
What you eat affects how you feel. If you’re feeling low energy or fatigued, it might be time to take a look at your diet.
While we don’t recommend restrictive or prescriptive diets, there’s nothing wrong with making some swaps aimed toward an overall healthier diet containing more fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, and fewer processed foods.
Check out these healthy diet swaps for some inspiration, but remember: the key to any diet is balance. It’s great to choose whole foods where possible, but it’s also fine to listen to your cravings (in moderation). Be gentle with yourself and aim for incremental changes.
SWITCH WHITE CARBS FOR WHOLE-GRAIN OPTIONS
White bread, rice, and pasta have the bran and germ of the grain in question removed, while whole-grain counterparts are made using the whole grain. Whole wheat bread/pasta and brown rice contain more protein and fiber than white bread, pasta, and rice, plus a greater range of vitamins and minerals, making them a healthier choice and an easy swap to make.
Whole grains are also beneficial to heart health. That’s not to say that you can’t enjoy a fluffy white baguette on occasion, but even if you choose whole grain carbs 50% of the time, it’s still better than always opting for white.
If you’re concerned about what goes into your bread, you can easily make your own whole wheat loaves with the help of a breadmaker.
OPT FOR HEALTHIER VERSIONS OF YOUR FAVORITE DRINKS
It’s easy to forget about drinks when trying to consume a healthier diet, but many drinks contain mountains of sugar, questionable artificial sweeteners, and other unwanted ingredients. If you’re a fan of tea or coffee with milk or creamer, try switching to oat milk or soy creamer to ditch the dairy.
Is gin and tonic your drink of choice? Switch sugary tonic for plain seltzer — it’s healthier and you can taste the subtle notes of the gin better. You can even make your own sparkling water with a DrinkMate or SodaStream. Soda fans might consider switching to a healthier version made with a natural sugar-free sweetener, such as stevia.
SWAP ANIMAL PROTEIN FOR VEGETABLE PROTEIN
Cutting back on meat is good for your body and for the environment, but remember to switch animal protein for vegetable protein rather than filling up on carbs. Legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils are rich in protein and easy to substitute for meat in certain dishes.
Brown lentils work well in spaghetti bolognese, while bean chili is just as filling as beef chili. Tofu, tempeh, and seitan are all great plant-based protein sources, but there’s a bit of a learning curve for cooking with them.
REACH FOR HEALTHIER SNACKS
Who doesn’t love a snack to keep them going? There’s nothing wrong with eating between meals, but don’t fall into the trap of only snacking on chips or chocolate — keep those as an occasional addition to your diet. Snacks need to be easily accessible and preferably ready to eat with no cooking and little assembly required. Some of our favorite options include nuts, dried fruit, brown rice cakes, and whole-grain crackers.
SWITCH TO SMALLER PLATES AND PILE ON THE VEGGIES
If you tend to overdo it on portion sizes, studies show that switching to smaller plates makes you feel as though you’ve eaten more than if you eat the same amount from a larger plate. We’re not suggesting that you reduce your portions to the point that you still feel hungry after eating, but many people eat more than they really want to just because it’s on their plate. You can always go back for seconds if you need. To ensure you get enough nutrients, try filling your plate with at least 50% vegetables.
EXPERIMENT WITH DIFFERENT STARCHES
Anyone who strictly sticks to white potatoes when choosing starchy vegetables should broaden their horizons. White potatoes are far from nutritionally void, but you’ll get a more balanced range of nutrients by mixing it up. Instead of white potatoes, try sweet potatoes, rutabaga, parsnips, squash, and taro.
BASE YOUR MEALS AROUND IN-SEASON PRODUCE
Healthy diets can be difficult to stick to for some, due to the cost of lots of fresh produce. In-season produce is significantly cheaper, plus it’s better for the environment to eat in season. Seasonal produce varies depending on the climate you live in, but in most areas you’ll have an abundance of choice in the summer and less in the winter, when seasonal vegetables include beetroot, Brussels sprouts, turnips, and kale.
SWAP DAIRY CREAM FOR PLANT-BASED ALTERNATIVES
You can make some deliciously rich dishes using heavy cream, but it certainly isn’t healthy. Instead, use plant-based alternatives made from nuts and seeds. You can make your own cream alternatives in a blender, but you’ll need a high-speed blender to get them perfectly smooth. Cashew cream is a popular choice since it’s extremely creamy with a neutral flavor. People with tree nut allergies can opt for sunflower seeds in place of cashews or other nuts.