Between school, work, going out with friends and family, and being busy everywhere else in-between, it can be easy to let our healthy diets fall by the wayside – like indulging in a quick bowl of sugary cereal in the morning, grabbing a slice of pizza or cheesy pasta to-go for lunch, and then stopping for coffee in the afternoon and getting the works – cream, sugar, you name it. While these choices may be okay in moderation, eating that way everyday is by no means the healthiest, nor is it feeding our bodies with all the nutrients it needs to keep us feeling and looking our best.
Fortunately, there are tons of simple swaps that we can make throughout the day to help cut out a lot of the unhealthy stuff – like processed foods, preservatives, sugars, and other junk – and add in more nutrient-rich foods. Below are just a few ideas to get you and the rest of your family started!
For our furry friends…
Swap dried pet food for fresh, all-natural meals.
Our pets feel and look their best when we incorporate fresh, healthy meals into their diets. One of my pets’ favorites is Freshpet, mainly because they use real, all-natural ingredients in their recipes. You won’t find any preservatives or additives like pre-processed meat powders, “chicken meals,” or by-products in their recipes – just real US farm-raised meat like beef and chicken as the main ingredient, plus lots of fresh fruits and veggies (we’re talking big chunks that you can actually see!). They’re basically the closest you can get to a home cooked meal for your pet (and yet they’re surprisingly quick and easy to prep!).
My cat and dog both go crazy for Freshpet’s meals – from their roasted beef nuggets (which Oliver is leaping for here!), to their tender chicken chunks with veggies. Judging by just how quickly they finish up their meals, they definitely don’t mind the switch to more nutritious, healthier foods either! The best part is, I can tell the difference in their energy levels, all the way to the healthiness of their skin and coats when I incorporate Freshpet into their diets.
In our own diets…
1) Choose brown rice over white rice.
Instead of cooking with white rice, which has been stripped of many essential nutrients, opt for brown rice instead. It’s less processed and still has its bran intact, so it contains more fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc and other nutrients to keep your nervous system and digestive system happy.
2) Swap white flour pasta for quinoa, lentil, bean, or chickpea pasta.
Just like white rice, white flour pasta is basically empty calories. Instead, choose alternative forms of pasta like quinoa, black bean, red lentil, spinach, or chickpea. There are so many options out there that are more nutrient-dense and tasty, plus they won’t irritate your digestive system.
3) Make your own salad dressings.
Store-bought salad dressings are often loaded with additives and preservatives. Instead, make your own at home! It can be as simple as combining olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Or, you can get a little fancy and make an Asian-inspired dressing using nut oil, apple cider vinegar, tamari, honey, and ginger – super easy!
4) Swap cereal for oats.
Instead of buying highly processed boxed cereal with tons of additives and sugar, try rolled oats. They’re just as easy to prep, but are a much better source of carbs, fiber, and vitamins and minerals. I especially love making overnight oats, and then topping them with fresh berries, agave, and cinnamon in the morning.
5) Order black coffee instead of a frappuccino.
Frappunccinos, caramel macchiatos, lattes – they’re all super tasty, but that’s because they’re loaded with fats and sugars. Instead, try drinking black coffee. Buying a more premium, flavorful coffee can definitely help ease this transition. Before you know it, you may grow used to drinking it straight (I surprisingly have!).
6) Swap store-bought frozen treats with homemade ones.
Instead of buying sugary ice creams or other treats, pick up some popsicle molds and make your own at home! Grab 2-3 all-natural ingredients (like fresh fruits, Greek yogurt, and honey), mash/mix everything together, pour the mixture into molds, and then freeze ’em for a super tasty and healthy treat.
Which food swap will you try out this week?