11 Healthy Food Swaps That Recognize That Diet Is an Ugly 4-Letter Word

Try these substitutions that are as high on flavor as they are on nutritional value.

Every January many of us set out with the best of healthy intentions to lose weight and change our bad eating habits. But the month is nearly over, and if you’re like most of us, your resolutions are already crashing and burning. That’s because the quick fixes of detoxes and diet fads aren’t healthy or sustainable. Developing good eating habits isn’t about extremes like swearing off gluten forever, never eating fries again or pretending dessert doesn’t exist. It’s about making the better choices. Here are some simple swaps you can make to get and stay healthy for the long haul.

1. Swap breakfast pastries for toast.

Breakfast pastries (aka dessert in the morning) flood your body with a ton of sugar and set you up for a mid-morning crash. Try whole grain toast with nut butter and banana slices; avocado, olive oil and sea salt; an egg, sautéed spinach and Sriracha; or goat cheese and berries. Bottom line is, ditch the added sugar for some protein, healthy fats and fruit.

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2. Swap sugary cereal/granola for homemade muesli.

Muesli is a combination of raw oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and other whole grains. It’s high in protein, low in added sugar and delicious with milk or yogurt.

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3. Swap soda for seltzer.

Seltzer aka soda water aka sparkling water is cold and fizzy without the chemicals or added sugar. If you need some sweetness, try adding frozen or fresh pieces of fruit to the bottom of your glass.

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4. Swap pepperoni pizza for veggie pizza.

Thin-crust pizza piled high with veggies from your local, family-run pizza joint is lower in fat and higher in vitamins, minerals and fiber than your typical meat-laden, chain-store pizza.

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5. Swap hamburgers for veggie burgers.

A thick slice of grilled mushroom or eggplant is a sustainable meaty burger alternative, with less fat and more vitamins, minerals and fiber. Try these eggplant sliders the next time you get a hankering for a burger.

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6. Swap spaghetti for spiralized veggie noodles.

Spiralized zucchini or squash is a great vehicle for your favorite pasta sauce without the refined carbs. They give your body the vitamins, minerals and fiber it needs, plus extra flavor. Try this recipe for zoodles with basil pesto.

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7. Swap french fries for sweet-potato “fries.”

Baked sweet potato fries are lower in fat and higher in antioxidants. Plus, they’re naturally sweet and help curb sugar cravings.

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8. Swap chips for crispy chickpeas.

Protein-rich, roasted chickpeas are crave-ably crispy and salty, but without the bad fat from the fryer. Plus, they’re higher in fiber and nutrients too.

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9. Swap white flour cookies for almond flour cookies.

Almond flour is packed with protein, and making the cookies yourself lets you control the sugar content. Try these sesame and anise cookies that are sweetened with maple syrup.

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10. Swap ice cream for banana “ice cream.”

Store-bought ice cream is packed with added sugar and saturated fat. Making banana “ice cream” at home in your food processor is equally as sweet and creamy; no added sugar required.

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11. Swap candy bars for dark chocolate plus nuts.

Candy bars are often packed with sugar and chemicals. If you want a chocolaty treat, try dark chocolate (70 percent cacao or higher) with a handful of toasted almonds. Dark chocolate has less sugar, and nuts are full of protein to help your body manage the sugar load.

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Written by Anne Young (thefoodstand.com) for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

WANT MORE HEALTHY SWAPS?

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