Simple Food Swaps
As the New Year dawns, a surge of determination propels many people to set ambitious resolutions, and many of them revolve around health and diet. Yet, by the time February arrives, Time notes that a staggering 80% of resolution makers find themselves abandoning these well-intentioned commitments.
The culprit? Restriction. Rigorous diet plans and overly ambitious goals can lead to frustration, and, ultimately, surrender. However, embracing a more sustainable approach to health-related resolutions can be the key to lasting success. In other words, rather than adopting a “quick fix” approach, consider making small, simple food swaps that make adhering to dietary goals not just feasible, but enjoyable.
As you head into the New Year, check out some of our favorite ways to swap out junk in favor of healthier alternatives.
Heart Health Swaps
Small changes in your daily diet and routine can have a significant impact on heart health, especially when it comes to snacking. These mindful choices are tasty, and they also take into account your cardiovascular well-being.
Forgo butter in favor of healthy oils
Rather than reach for the butter, cook with olive or avocado oil instead. These oils contain heart-healthy fats, and studies show that they can also help reduce inflammation.
Get your seafood fix
Next time you’re out to eat, consider ordering seafood, rather than steak. Certain fatty fish, among them tuna and salmon, contain high levels of heart-healthy fats, making them a tasty, smart alternative to red meat.
Opt for Meatless Monday
Whether you aim for Monday or not, making at least one dinner a week meatless can have positive effects on heart health.
Snacks are meant to satiate you between meals, but some do a much better job of that than others. Try making these simple, yet impactful, snacktime swaps and see if it’s easier to make it to your next mealtime.
Instead of bagels, opt for English muffins
Sure; bagels might be better for you than donuts, but they’re still chock-full of refined carbohydrates. English muffins, on the other hand, are a smaller, lower-calorie and more heart-healthy alternative.
Choose fruit-infused water over fruit juice
Many people mistakenly view fruit juice as healthy, but in truth, most fruit juices are full of sugar and calories. Instead, try infusing water with a few pieces of real fruit to get the flavor and health benefits of the fruit without all the added sugars and calories.
Substitute avocado for mayo on sandwiches
No one likes a dry sandwich, but you don’t have to lather yours in mayonnaise to make it palatable. Instead, try spreading avocado on your bread in place of the mayo, which features heart-healthy fatty acids and fiber.
Everyday Food Swaps
These small, everyday food swaps are practical and easy to implement, meaning you’ll be that much more likely to follow through with them in the long run.
Skip the soda in favor of healthier alternatives
It’s no secret that sugar-heavy soda has negative health effects, but luckily, there are plenty of alternatives to explore. Try fruit-infused water, green tea or kombucha when you want more flavor than traditional water delivers but don’t want all the junk that comes with drinking soda.
Choose wheat or whole-grain bread over white varieties
White bread is low in vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber, so it offers little in terms of nutritional value. Whole-grain and sprouted breads, on the other hand, serve the same purpose as white bread but pack a serious nutritional punch, too.
Swap sweetened coffee creamer for homemade, low-sugar varieties
Most store-bought coffee creamers contain high-fructose corn syrup, which can contribute to weight gain, diabetes and other negative health effects. Try making your own using coconut milk, maple syrup, cinnamon or even a little vanilla extract to get the same sweetness without all the sugar.
Indulging in desserts doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure – in fact, making thoughtful swaps with regard to sweet treats can be a delectable way to prioritize cardiovascular well-being. Here are some of our favorite dessert swaps that are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth and contribute to a heart-smart lifestyle.
Sub Greek yogurt for frozen yogurt
Sure; frozen yogurt is often lower in fat and calories than traditional ice cream, but in can also have more added sugar. Try topping plain Greek yogurt with fruit, nuts, granola or honey for a healthier take on a traditional sundae.
Swap out baked goods for baked fruit
Rather than reach for cake, cookies or pastries, try baking fruit, like pears or apples, and then topping them with a little brown sugar, cinnamon or maple syrup.
Reach for gourmet nut butter, rather than traditional peanut butter
Gourmet nut butters are becoming increasingly affordable and easy to find, and they’re also a healthy alternative to commercial peanut butters, many of which contain high levels of sugar, oil and fat. While they’re great on their own, they’re also mighty tasty served with apple slices or other fruit.
Making these seemingly minor changes to your snack, dessert and general eating habits doesn’t require a major diet overhaul – and that’s why you’re more likely to stick to these healthy habits and see them through well past February. While incorporating these simple snack swaps into your diet helps nourish your body, it also contributes to long-term heart health, making every bite a step toward a better, healthier lifestyle.