The Occasional Healthy Swap

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Do you struggle to figure out what healthy alternatives there are to some commonly associated “unhealthy” foods? In this post, you will learn about healthy food swaps that you can make on occasion. Because I’m all about creating balance and enjoying food instead of dieting and restricting foods. However, many people do come to me wondering if there are healthier alternatives to some of the commonly labeled “unhealthy” foods. With that said, if you are looking to make a small health swap on occasion, learn to nourish yourself with gentle nutrition, not restrict yourself or demonize any food choices, all while getting some ideas on potential food swaps, then this information is for you!

What Is “Gentle Nutrition”?

Gentle nutrition is a term that’s often used in Intuitive Eating and in the world of food freedom. It’s actually the LAST (10th) principal of intuitive eating, because often times individuals who can benefit from intuitive eating practices must learn how to trust and listen to their internal cues before honoring their external knowledge. Many times, this is because years of chronic on and off again dieting or “yoyo dieting”, years of toxic diet culture messaging, years of body shaming and self-hatred, and years of not listening to and honoring ones internal cues can really damage our ability to trust our innate body signals AND mess up our bodies ability to communicate with us. So, we must unlearn to relearn how to become more intuitive. Only then can we add back in the external stuff like nutrition and health knowledge.

Gentle nutrition is all about satisfying your physical, emotional, and mental health through the use of honoring both your internal cravings and hunger/fullness cues AND your external knowledge on nutrition, health, and your body. The graphic below is an example of a graphic that I shared in my, Elizabeth G Community FaceBook Group that sums up Gentle Nutrition in an easy to understand Venn Diagram. I’m a big fan of graphics, if you can’t tell.

Why Is This Important?

Since this post is focusing purely on the external stuff, AKA nutrition knowledge. It’s important for people to recognize if they are ready to implement these sorts of swaps without being restrictive or doing it in the name of dieting. If you’re not, skip this post and read another such as, How To Develop A Healthy Relationship With Food.

It’s also important to recognize that this post is titled “The Occasional Healthy Swap” for a reason! Because, all of these “health swaps” are simply suggestions of ways that we can implement nutrition knowledge on occasion. It’s all about balance!

The Swaps

Idea #1: Seltzer water with lime and stevia instead of soda/pop.

Weather you call it “soda”, “pop”, or even better “soda pop”, swapping out soda/pop for unsweetened seltzer water is a great way to keep that lovely carbonation while providing a hint of sweetness, through adding a small amount of stevia or monk fruit with a fresh lemon or lime! Yum. Swapping soda for seltzer can drastically reduce your added sugar intake, while leaving you hydrated.

Idea #2: Whole grain pasta and bread instead of white pasta or bread.

Such an easy swap! Instead of white bread, try whole grain or sprouted grain bread. The same can apply to pasta. Try whole grain pasta instead of white pasta for a simple fiber and mineral boost!

On top of being delicious, whole grains provide more fiber and nutrients when compared to refined white grains. You could also try bean pastas such as chickpea, lentil, and black bean pasta for added protein and fiber! Zucchini noodles and butternut squash are some other great alternatives for a once in a while swap!

BONUS: If you want to stick with refined white pasta because you truly don’t enjoy the taste of whole wheat, try balancing your pasta dish out by adding in vegetables and lean proteins!

Idea #3: Candy Substitutes.

We are talking all about candies! We all know and love them, but on occasion it could be fun to swap them out for these healthier alternatives.

  1. Instead of gummies try dried fruit, like dried mango! Dried fruit is a great substitute for when you’re feeling a little gummy candy action! 
  2. Instead of milk chocolate you can try dark chocolate! This is a really easy substitution and loaded with awesome minerals like magnesium.
  3. If you’re just craving something sweet, protein or energy balls are an easy way to satisfy your sweet craving while receiving additional nutrition! Because they include all the main macronutrients (protein + carb + fat), they will stabilize your BG and keep you full. If you make them in a big batch, you can easily throw them in your freezer to pull out when you want something sweet but also want to satisfy yourself!

Idea #4: Baked instead of fried!

Baked chips instead of fried chips are an easy substitution and a great option for those that are looking to decrease their saturated fat consumption.

If you don’t have time to bake potatoes or vegetables on your own, you can buy store-bought chips that say “baked” on the label!

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