Mental Health

Five Easy Food Swaps for a Healthier Diet

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Healthy eating doesn’t have to be hard. It’s just a matter of having the right information, doing a bit of planning, and being open to trying new foods. Here are some easy swaps you can make to get you started.

Greek Yogurt instead of Regular Yogurt
It contains twice the amount of protein. Don’t be tricked into the no-fat versions. Fat is part of what makes our food taste good, and also helps to keep us full. If we take it out, then often more sugar is added to make it taste better, and we end up eating more food because we are still hungry. Look for a brand with no more than 10 grams of sugar in 125 ml. I suggest buying plain yogurt, and then drizzle it with honey or maple syrup to please adult and kids’ sweeter palates.

If you need to be on a dairy-free diet for leaky gut or for anti-inflammatory reasons, try plain dairy-free versions like coconut yogurt or buffalo milk yogurt.

Minced Cauliflower instead of Rice
Rice is great if you trying to eat gluten-free, but not if you are trying to lose weight. Once digested, one cup of rice contains approximately 50 grams of sugar. Compare that to cauliflower that only has 5 grams. Cauliflower is also going to have more fibre, vitamins and minerals overall. If you’re looking for a way to save time, you can pulse a few heads of cauliflower in your food processor all at one time (especially if they are on sale) and then freeze it using freezer bags. Then you can pull out a bag whenever you need it during the week.

Coconut Oil instead of Cream

This was a great new discovery for people who love cream in their coffee. Many patients have reported drinking their coffee black just wasn’t the same. Blend your coffee with 1 teaspoon of coconut oil and a splash of pure vanilla, and then sprinkle it with cinnamon. So tasty, plus coconut oil has lots of health benefits, and there are no artificial flavours or additives.

Carbonated Water instead of Juice or Pop
This is for those of you who complain that water is boring, try a Soda Stream. It is super easy to use (just a few pumps of CO2 into the water), and a new CO2 cartridge only costs about $25 (one cartridge can last a year or more). If you like a bit of flavour, you can add some lemon or lime – either the real thing or an essential oil, or you can infuse a fruit of your choice.

Protein Smoothie instead of a carbohydrate-rich Breakfast or Afternoon Snack
It’s so easy for breakfast and afternoon snacks to be really carbohydrate rich – that means we digest them quickly, spike our blood sugar, and then we crash and want something else to eat. Over the years, I have used various types of protein powders, and there are lots of good ones and not so good ones out there. For the last several years, I have been drinking medical foods like UltraMeal360, UltraInflamX360, and Synerclear (chocolate is my favourite flavour). Medical Foods are protein powders that treat specific medical conditions (eg. leaky gut, inflammation, liver toxicity, or insulin resistance). They are hypoallergenic and also replace your multivitamin.

For patients who prefer to eat, rather than drink their breakfast, I have them switch to having their protein shake in the afternoon. If I am at home, I blend it with leafy greens, some berries and/ or a nut milk (almond milk or coconut milk are my favourites). If I’m at work, I just mix it with water in my shaker cup. Easy peasy – tastes great, fills me up and is super convenient.

So, there you have it, five easy swaps I have found to make healthy eating easier. I’m sure there are many more great ideas out there. I would love for you to share what you have found has worked for you.


Originally Published: December 18, 2017

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Dr. Michelle Durkin, BSC(H), ND, Contributor and Bowen Practitioner at Quinte Naturopathic Centre

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Dr. Michelle Durkin attended the University of Guelph and obtained a Bachelor of Science with honours in Biomedical Science. With this medical background, she went on to study at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto and graduated as a licensed doctor of naturopathic medicine in 2003. Dr. Durkin founded her clinic, the Quinte Naturopathic Centre. As a Naturopathic Doctor she is very committed to providing excellent individualized health care in a warm and professional environment. Michelle is also a professional Bowenwork® practitioner. In addition, Dr. Durkin holds professional memberships with the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors (OAND), the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND), and the Association of Perinatal Naturopathic Doctors (APND).