Easy Food Swaps for Healthier Eating by Caron Golden

If you are looking for ways to eat healthier, it can feel daunting and overwhelming. Especially when there are so many tasty looking foods that may distract you from your healthy eating plans.

Easy Food Swaps for Healthier Eating So how about taking a different approach? Instead of eliminating certain food groups and starting short-term diets, focus on keeping it simple and doable. You can swap some less healthy foods for others that fit your eating plan better. Focus on picking foods that work well with your lifestyle. It’s not meant to be perfect, but to take small steps that complement exercise and other healthy habits. Every little bit helps!

What is Food Swapping?
Food swapping can come in various forms. Some food swaps mean using healthier ingredients in place of unhealthy foods while cooking. It can also mean ordering differently in a restaurant to make a better choice. And once you get started making better choices, you may lose your desire for the less healthy option.
Here are a variety of smart swaps that can get you started and may inspire other swaps.

Healthy Food Swap Ideas for Dining Out
  • • Instead of a traditional hamburger, opt for a grilled chicken sandwich. Or, try a ground chicken, turkey, or portobello mushroom burger.
  • • When ordering a sandwich, switch out the bun or bread for lettuce.
  • • Ask for brown rice instead of white rice.
  • • Want dessert? Go for low-fat or fat-free frozen yogurt in place of ice cream.
  • • If you are craving Mexican food, request corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas. Here are some more Mexican food swap ideas:
  •    • Order veggie tacos instead of meat tacos.
  •    • Pick salsa over guacamole.
  •    • Ask for light cheese and sour cream (or skip it altogether).
  •    • Instead of a burrito, try your meal as a salad or bowl instead!  
  • • If you want Italian, opt for tomato-based pasta sauces over cream-based sauces.
  • • When ordering a salad, choose a vinaigrette instead of a creamy salad dressing. And be wary of too much cheese, fried chicken, and other unhealthy toppings.
  • Healthy Food Swaps When Eating at Home

  • • Instead of butter, use olive oil. Also, try using a mister to spray the oil so you’ll use less of it.
  • • When using sour cream, swap it for low-fat or fat-free plain Greek yogurt.
  • • Making pasta? Use whole wheat pasta or try a veggie noodle like a zoodle” zucchini noodle.
  • • When making rice, opt for low-carb and nutrient-rich cauliflower rice. You can also use this swap for mashed potatoes by making mashed cauliflower.
  • • Use an immersion blender to “cream” vegetable soup or use Greek yogurt instead of making cream-based soup.
  • • Swap out cereal for fiber-rich oatmeal or other whole grain hot cereals.
  • • Roast a chicken or turkey at home and slice it for sandwiches instead of processed meats.
  • • If you use mayo, swap it out for other condiments like mustard or hot sauces.
  • • When a recipe calls for ground beef, swap it for ground turkey or chicken instead. This works for meatloaf, meatballs, and even sloppy Joe sandwiches!
  • • Swap your deep fryer for an air fryer to indulge your need for crispy foods.

Get More Diabetes-Friendly Eating Tips

Want other ways to eat healthier, diabetes-friendly recipes and more? Sign up today for the Diabetes Food Hub e-newsletter sent straight to your inbox once a month.

Related Articles

  • The Many Types of Tomatoes

    The Many Types of Tomatoes

    Summer is a great time to stock up on fresh produce in season, like watermelon, corn, cucumbers, peaches, plums—and tomatoes! You might be surprised at just how many varieties and options there are when it comes to the tomato. Tomatoes are a versatile, non-starchy vegetable to include in your diabetes-friendly eating plan.

  • 5 Diabetes-Friendly Recipes for St. Patrick’s Day

    5 Diabetes-Friendly Recipes for St. Patrick’s Day

    You’ll want to put on a green apron to make these fun, diabetes-friendly recipes for St. Patrick’s Day! Whether you are Irish, or simply Irish at heart, these dishes are lower in calories, fat, and carbs than the traditional recipes. (They’re just as tasty, though!)

  • How to Make Diabetes-Friendly Taquitos

    How to Make Diabetes-Friendly Taquitos

    t’s taquito time! Check out the recording of our live cooking class and learn step-by-step how to make this delicious recipe.

  • Top 7 Veggies You Should Be Eating and Why

    Top 7 Veggies You Should Be Eating and Why

    We’ve all been told to eat our veggies from a young age. That’s because vegetables are nutrient dense and can help protect your health and reduce your risk of developing chronic health conditions. As a person living with diabetes, there are seven stellar picks that offer bonus benefits. Plan to fill half of every mealtime plate or bowl with non-starchy veggies by regularly enjoying these winners.

  • All About the Benefits of Basil

    All About the Benefits of Basil

    Basil is one of the most popular herbs, bringing flavor and vibrancy to everyday meals. With its enticing aroma, distinctive taste, and numerous culinary applications, basil has become an essential ingredient in cuisines from around the globe. From Italian classics to Asian delights, this versatile herb adds a fresh and aromatic touch to a variety of dishes.

  • Ways to Eat Winter Squash

    Ways to Eat Winter Squash

    The winter squash. Is there a vegetable that is more representative of cool weather comfort food? There are dozens upon dozens of richly colored, oddly shaped varieties to choose from, depending on where you live and where you shop. And, speaking of shopping, one of the benefits of buying winter squash is how hearty they are. You can enjoy them the day you bring them home or they can hang around for weeks, protected by their skin from going bad.

Recommended for You