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5 Simple Food Swaps for Better Health

An ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and an ACE Lifestyle and Weight Management Coach, Pamela Hernandez breaks down small changes that can make a big difference to your overall health in this guest post for DailyBurn.

Starting a fitness journey is a slow and steady process. It’s never perfect in the beginning and it really starts with little changes, not big dramatic makeovers. My job is to help my clients change a lifetime of habits and create a new, healthier way of living. This doesn’t happen overnight and it certainly isn’t easy. But I want every person I coach to feel that same success; they do indeed have the power to change.

Small changes in the foods we eat (and drink) can actually lead to big results. After I look at a food log, I start with only minor modifications. It could be eating breakfast or adding more vegetables. Or, it could be making easy food substitutions. Here are five simple, good-for-you food swaps that you can make today.

1. Swap your morning latte for green tea.

Morning Latte Green Tea

I love Starbucks as much as the next person, but a Grande Soy Cinnamon Dolce Latte is 330 calories and loaded with sugar. Skip the latte and try a Zen green tea instead. It has zero calories and still has caffeine that will get you going in the morning. Plus, green tea has a slight thermogenic effect on your metabolism, meaning that your metabolism will get an extra boost in the morning.

2. Swap lettuce for spinach.

 Lettuce Spinach

Iceberg lettuce is ranks low in nutrients — not to mention flavor. Generally speaking, the darker the vegetable, the more nutrients you’re going to get. Using baby spinach in place of iceberg on sandwiches and in salads will give you more folic acid, iron and flavor in your next lunch. Or, get really creative and put some in your smoothie, such as this one.

3. Swap chips for baby carrots.

Chips Carrots

Everybody wants a little crunch. Baby carrots are a much better way to do it. They’re even sold in single serving bags, making them easy to grab and go just like potato chips. But you’ll save anywhere from 100 to 200 calories per serving. Another great reason to munch on baby carrots — they can whiten your smile! They are slightly abrasive, so when you chew you’re cleaning those pearly whites.

4. Swap dried fruit for dry roasted edamame.

Dried Fruit Edemame

Dried fruit often has added sugar and is missing the water and fiber that make us feel full after eating a regular apple or pear. Instead, try dry roasted edamame. Per serving, your calories will be roughly the same but you’ll get 14 grams of protein and eight grams of fiber. It’s a more sensible and portable way to keep hunger at bay.

5. Swap pasta for squash.

 Pasta Squash

I love spaghetti squash with some olive oil, basil and Parmesan cheese. You can top it with a chunky marinara and pair it with a serving of your favorite protein. Don’t stop there, though — you can also use nutrient-rich zucchini in place of pasta. Get out your mandolin slicer and create ribbons from fresh zucchini, which makes a wide noodle that’s a great base for lean proteins and sauces.

What’s your favorite simple swap? What was the first change you made to start your fitness journey? Tell us in the comments below!

Originally posted November 13, 2012. 

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