Spring is here. Which means summer is almost here. Which means we’re all thinking about getting in our bathing suits and cutting down on the carbs.
Watching what we eat and making changes to our diets is not always the easiest thing to do, in fact, it can be a little overwhelming — especially if you’re new to it.
And, if you haven’t noticed, there’s a fitness and health epidemic happening and it’s infecting Instagram accounts everywhere.
Okay, obsessing over your food may actually be an unhealthy habit, but some of these health-food trends and so-called fitness gurus may actually be on to something.
Below are some healthy food swaps that are simple enough for the average 20-something. They offer way more nutritional value than the Girl Scout cookies on which you’re currently nibbling (nothing against a good Thin Mint, but they’re not exactly making you thin).
1. Coconut oil
If you haven’t heard about the many uses and benefits of coconut oil, you’ve been living under a rock. Its claim to fame is that it’s a super food that will offer you healthier hair, softer cuticles and help with weight loss.
In the kitchen, coconut oil is a great alternative for cooking oils, like for roasting and sautéing your vegetables or as a replacement for butter on your (whole grain) toast.
Quinoa (KEEN-WA) is an interesting food. It’s technically not a grain or a wheat, it contains no gluten and offers a bunch of protein. With the texture of couscous, it’s a great replacement for rice or oats! Swap your breakfast oats for organic plain quinoa and top with your normal dosage of fruit, cinnamon and nuts. Or, replace your brown rice with quinoa, seasoned to your liking.
Kale. Health nuts love kale. It’s the attention-loving cousin of spinach, taking its place in smoothies and side dishes everywhere. But, kale is actually better than spinach when it comes to mock potato chips. Kale crisps beautifully in an oven (when doused with some olive oil and roasted for 8 minutes on 400 degrees) whereas spinach would turn into a watery pile. Kale chips crunch just like Lays and satisfy that salty craving without killing your diet.
4. Almond milk
Or any non-dairy milk for that matter. Milk just isn’t the same as the natural, farm-fresh thing we used to get. Cows are different, milk is different and our bodies are different. So many people are dairy-sensitive and don’t even know it. Cutting out dairy is great for skin, nails and digestion. If you’re allergic to nuts, you can opt for soy or coconut milk in your cereal, smoothies and maybe even your coffee.
If you have a major sweet tooth, “dieting” means finding healthy ways around dessert. Face it, we love sugar and we can’t resist a hearty serving of cake. So when baking your treats at home, opt for applesauce in place of butter or oil. Unsweetened, natural applesauce is a great alternative for baking, giving you the proper consistency without the fats and calories in oils and butter.
Who doesn’t love avocado? While it’s a great addition to sandwiches, tacos and omelets, avocado can also be used as a replacement for mayo. Yep. Mayonnaise, the diet killer. Swap your mayo for avocado in things like chicken or tuna salad. Disclaimer: your chicken and tuna salad will be a rather funky color, but seasoned well, it tastes just the same without the added saturated fat!
7. Spaghetti Squash
It’s squash but it looks like spaghetti (meaning, it satisfies the carb craving without the carbs). Crack the squash open, spoon out the insides and it really does look like spaghetti. Top with your usual pasta toppings (pesto, marinara or veggies) and dig in without feeling a morsel of guilt. Buon appetito.
Use organic everything for anything if you really are trying to be good to your body, the best thing you can do is to eat organically. Sure, it may be a little pricier in the grocery store, but without the added pesticides and hormones, it’s certainly worth it. Start slow and incorporate organically grown fruits and vegetables into your diet. You’re not going to turn into a health guru overnight, so baby steps is the way to go.
If your mission is be healthier, get fit or just look good in your bathing suit, try incorporating some of the above foods into your daily routine.
Swapping the not-so-good for the healthier options will make all the difference to your body, both inside and out!
Photo Credit: Shutterstock