Making the leap from a regular diet of processed, convenient items to nutritious whole foods can seem like a real challenge.
Food additives like sugar, salt, and trans fats can really tempt your taste buds to reach for those chocolate pretzels!
Even so, with the right strategy, you can slowly swap in healthier items that will taste so delicious you won’t even miss the other foods.
The following tips will help you transition to a healthy eating superstar!
1. Pass The Pasta
Swap: Spaghetti squash instead of pasta
If white noodles and pasta are staples in your kitchen, try this easy and delicious swap.
Not only will you get a boost of flavor, but you will add tons of fiber to your dish.
Research indicates that fiber increases feelings of fullness, so you will need fewer bites to help keep you full.
In addition, research in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that increased fiber intake can prevent weight gain, and may even contribute to weight loss.
The next time a pasta craving hits, choose spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti noodles!
Cut the squash in half, scrape out the seeds, and roast in the oven for about a half hour.
Using a fork, scrape the squash out and the “noodles” will look like spaghetti.
If you aren’t ready to make the switch all the way, try substituting half of the squash noodles for regular noodles, or choose whole grain pasta.
You may also find pasta made from quinoa, brown rice, spinach, and even yams.
2. It’s A Wrap!
Swap: Large green leaf wrap instead of bread
Sandwiches and wraps are fun and easy to make, and are popular menu items.
Whether you need a quick lunch or snack, wrapping your favorite ingredients into a pita, tortilla, or flatbread cuts prep time in half.
However, if you are trying to cut calories and get in more greens, here is a simple trick.
The next time you want to wrap and roll, use kale, collard greens, or even Bibb lettuce in place of the bread wrap.
Lettuce wraps are a popular item in Asian cuisine and are a quick and healthy alternative to using bread.
3. Yes To Yogurt
Swap: Greek or coconut yogurt for heavy dips and sauces
Greek yogurt has gained popularity for its wonderful nutrient profile and its tangy, thick, and creamy texture and taste.
Created with milk and live, active cultures called “probiotics,” yogurt can facilitate healthy digestion and promote overall health.
Greek yogurt also contains twice the probiotics of regular yogurt.
Research indicates that probiotics are associated with increased immune health, and protection from ulcers.
Yogurt is also versatile because it can be consumed as a sweet or savory snack. For those who prefer to go dairy-free, coconut and soy yogurt are tasty options.
The next time you want to pile heavy sour cream or mayonnaise onto your sandwich, baked potato, or in dip, use yogurt instead.
Choose the unsweetened version without added sugar or cornstarch, and add your favorite items for a delicious boost of flavor and nutrients.
4. You Say Potato – I Say Sweet Potato!
Swap: Sweet potatoes instead of potatoes
Potatoes are a staple food item in the United States, but most people consume French fries or potatoes doused in butter and cream.
Although potatoes are rich in potassium, vitamin C, and fiber, you can boost your nutrition intake by switching to sweet potatoes.
Not only will you get a pop of color on your plate, you will also get a boost of antioxidant beta carotene and a hint of sweetness.
Beta carotene is converted to vitamin A in our bodies, and is responsible for the bright colors in sweet potatoes, carrots, and pumpkins.
Sweet potatoes are also a versatile tuber, as they can be consumed in either a sweet or savory dish.
For a sweet version, try adding some cinnamon and honey to a baked sweet potato.
Top with a dollop of unsweetened Greek yogurt and enjoy as a snack!
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine, and board certified anti-aging expert. He has recently appeared on “The Ricki Lake Show,” “Dr. Oz,” and contributes to Yahoo Health and The Huffington Post. Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition, and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica, Newport Beach, and Pasadena. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni, founded the Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at email@example.com. To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter, visit www.taoofwellness.com.