The second step to becoming healthier starts by substituting. What the heck does that mean?
Substitute healthy foods in your diet for unhealthy foods. Integrate more fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins and nutrients.
I’m imagining some groans and eye rolls being ushered as you’re reading this. I completely understand where you’re coming from. I’ll flat out admit this part of the process is annoying at times, but can be fun and exciting if you open yourself up to trying it out. It’s also absolutely necessary if you want to continue on a healthier path.
HOW I STARTED SUBSTITUTING
There’s a huge misconception that eating healthy means eating unhappily. I really fooled myself into maintaining this belief. It’s not true though.
It’s possible to eat both healthy and happy, and I’ll prove it right here and now in this post. To do this, I need to explain my past eating habits.
I’m a recovering junk food junkie. Junk food has always been my biggest weakness with food. It tastes so yummy. I think about eating cookies, brownies, or candy and instantly salivate. Believe me when I say this: junk food malnourishes your body. There’s no nutrients or vitamins in junk food to sustain a long term healthy diet. Even foods you perceive to be healthy often mislead you. After I deduced this conclusion, I realized I needed to change my bad eating habits and start learning what’s actually good for me.
I love fruit, so I decided to incorporate more fruits into my diet. From there I looked up more healthy alternatives and one thing led to another. Eventually, I ended up substituting healthy meals for unhealthy meals.
Here’s the three main steps on how I did it all.
HOW TO SUBSTITUTE
Step 1 Before you achieve the meal swapping level, start small by swapping out snacks. It’s the best and easiest way to begin the substituting process. Here are a few snack substitute suggestions:
- An apple or banana for a granola bar
- Various types of berries like strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries instead of cookies
- Dipping carrots and celery sticks into peanut or almond butter rather than chips and dip
- A bowl of mixed nuts including almonds and cashews over a bowl of popcorn
Step 2 Once you master snacks, move onto basic food swaps such as the following:
- Almond milk for regular dairy milk
- Sweet potatoes instead of other starchier types of potatoes
- Mashed cauliflower rather than mashed potatoes
- Natural sweeteners such as raw honey or maple syrup over white granulated or confectioner’s sugar
- Quinoa or brown rices such as whole grain rice for white or fried rice
- Whole grain or whole wheat bread instead of white bread
Step 3 Now you can advance to the big leagues, substituting meals. This part of the process proves quite enjoyable and creative. I’m only going to list a few meals because I want you to use your imagination and come up with your own meal ideas with your new substituting mentality. When you do, feel free to leave a comment at the end of this post to let me know what you’ve tried. Anyways here’s a couple of meal alternatives:
- Spaghetti squash with your choice of toppings over regular spaghetti pasta
You can find spaghetti squash in the produce section of the grocery store. The easiest way to make it is to cut it in half and bake it. I’m not sure what the temperature and baking time need to be, but you can look up a recipe on whatever search engine you use. After it’s done baking, scoop out the insides with a fork and you’ll notice it comes apart like spaghetti noodles. It’s weird getting used to the crunchy texture, but add some spaghetti sauce or toppings of your choosing. You’ll be surprised by the delicious end result.
- Pita bread pizzas also with your choice of toppings rather than frozen or delivery bought pizza
Pita bread is a wonderful alternative to normal pizza dough. Also, you can find it in packs at the grocery store, and it’s cheaper. I buy the oat bran kind because it has more fiber than white pita bread. Then add pizza sauce and toppings (I like spinach and mushrooms) and pop it in the oven on 400 degrees for 7-10 minutes. This is so easy. I make them every week, so definitely try it!
How does this process affect your body? Hopefully you’ll start to notice positive changes.
I experienced better digestion, improved mood, and increased energy levels.
*An important factor to note in this process is how your taste buds change. At first these foods might taste really bland or unappetizing, but over time your taste buds adapt to the different flavors.
Comment below and let me know how these healthy substitutions transformed you!
- See related article The First Step to Becoming Healthier: WATER?!