Updated: Apr 9, 2020
Making simple changes for a healthier life does not have to be complicated! Simple swaps like homemade salad dressing instead of store-bought is something that is simple, sustainable and really DOES have an impact on your health and wellness.
Here is the thing...when it comes to making changes for your health, it all boils down to habits. Drastic behavior and habit change overnight can lead to feelings of overwhelm and even failure when there is no perfect follow through.
One way to start on the path to success is with baby steps! And swapping some kitchen staples for healthier alternatives is a great way to make lasting changes you can feel good about!
So here are my 5 Simple Swaps for a Healthier Kitchen!
1. Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil and Margarine
Replace vegetable oil, canola oil, soybean oil, butter replacements, shortenings and safflower oil with coconut oil, avocado oil, grass-fed butter or ghee for cooking. During processing for packaged foods, vegetable oils, canola oils, soybean oil, and many others, become hydrogenated to increase shelf life, breaking down into trans fatty acids and becoming damaged; replacing essential healthy fats in the body. And when it comes to buttery spreads, you are better off with the real stuff!
Consider looking at your favorite snacks in your pantry and identify and replace any that include hydrogenated oils in the ingredients list; even if the nutrition facts label reads '0 grams trans fat' if 'hydrogenated oil' of any kind is in the ingredients list...it has trans fats. Learn more here, on the dangers of hydrogenated vegetable oils and butter substitutions like margarine.
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2. White Sugar
Toss the white stuff and swap for coconut sugar, dates, pure maple syrup or 100% Pure Stevia. Added sugar is everywhere, especially in processed foods and fast food. It depletes the body of vital vitamins, minerals, and enzymes and offers no nutritional value in return. Stick to 100% pure Stevia for blood sugar management and avoid artificial sweeteners- these are chemically processed with links to issues like migraines and gut flora imbalance.
3. White flour
Enriched, bleached, refined- white flour is devoid of nutrients, then enriched with preservatives and spikes blood sugar. It’s found in bread, pasta, crackers, cookies, soups and other processed boxed goods. Replace white flour with almond flour, coconut flour or flax meal in recipes. Pasta can be subbed for brown rice pasta, lentil pasta, zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash. Skip the crackers and use carrots, cucumber and bell peppers for your dips and spreads.
4. Sodas and juice
Beverages that contain high amounts of sugar and calories wreak havoc on blood sugar balance, hormones, and weight management. They are virtually empty calories with no fiber to slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream. This means trouble following through with your wellness goals for the rest of the day due to cravings and energy crashes. Replace sodas and sugary fruit juices with sparkling water, unsweet tea, herbal tea or plain filtered water. Having difficulty adjusting to sparkling water? If fresh-squeezed juice from lemon, lime or oranges isn’t cutting it, try adding a splash of 100% cranberry juice (no sugar added). Over time, reduce the amount you add until you enjoy sparkling water with a simple lime wedge!
5. Dairy Milk
Milk from conventionally raised cows can be full of hormones, antibiotics and puss from the over milking of cows in inhumane conditions. Dairy milk is also a common allergen and causes inflammation and digestive upset. Opt for almond milk, coconut milk, macadamia nut milk or any other nut milk. Be wary of soy- it’s a common genetically modified crop with a lot of pesticide residue, and too much soy can alter hormone function since it mimics estrogen in the body.
Concerned about calcium intake? Sardines, arugula, and tahini actually have MORE calcium than cows milk! Learn more about the potential dangers of dairy milk, here.
To keep it convenient, I've created this Super Easy, Simple Swaps Guide for you to reference when you're ready to do a pantry overhaul or head to the grocery store!
Katie Valley is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist in Ann Arbor and online. She shares her passion for all things 'Wellness' at www.katievalleywellness.com. With a background in Public Health Education, she continued her journey to share the holistic approach to optimal health and wellness with family, friends, clients and readers.
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