Healthy Swaps for Sustainable Healthy Diets by Emily Weeks, RDN, LD

We’ve all been there before—the sudden urge to make a major diet or lifestyle change to get healthy once and for all. Feelings like this may arise around the new year, when weight loss or diet resolutions are made (and quickly abandoned). Or, perhaps after a doctor’s appointment where unexpected news of elevated cholesterol or blood glucose (blood sugar) may cause worry and stress. Often, major diet changes are made in the wake of news like this but soon revert back to old ways. Why is it so hard to make healthy changes?

Healthy Swaps for Sustainable Healthy Diets Why Lifestyle Changes can be Difficult
There are two reasons why making healthy lifestyle changes commonly fail:

1. Making too many changes at once
2. Choosing changes that are too hard to make or goals that are too hard to reach
Making small changes to the foods that are already in our diets, or swaps, can help those who often “abandon ship” stick to healthy habits. Adults, children, families, and those with pre-existing conditions (or those who wish to prevent future disease) can make simple, everyday swaps to the foods they already eat to help manage or reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other diseases. Small changes throughout our daily lives can add up and make a big difference.
Healthy Swaps for a Healthier You
Swaps to help reach blood glucose (blood sugar) levels and A1C targets:
  • - Choose cauliflower pizza crust with veggies over regular pizza crust to lower the amount of carbohydrates in a meal.
  • - Cauliflower pasta with veggies, spaghetti squash, or zucchini noodles are great swaps for regular pasta for an extra dose of fiber and veggies.
  • - Make a fried rice dish using cauliflower rice as the base and adding lean protein, veggies, and egg for a delicious lower-carb meal.
  • - Fiber can help with managing blood glucose levels. Try to include a source of fiber at every meal by choosing whole grains over refined grains (white bread, white pasta, white rice).
  • - Make tacos using cauliflower or corn tortillas
  • - Top toast with sweet potato and scrambled eggs instead of butter
  • - Flavored sparkling water or seltzer and infused water are great flavored swaps for soda to reduce intake of sugar.
  • - Choose dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Dark chocolate is lower in sugar and higher in beneficial antioxidants.
Try these swaps to lower cholesterol and improve heart health:
  • - Use olive or avocado oil instead of butter. These oils are higher in heart-protective fats.
  • - Make one dinner a week meatless. Reducing intake of animal proteins can reduce inflammation in the body.
  • - Choose fish instead of steak at restaurants. Fatty fish such as salmon or tuna contain heart-healthy fats.
  • - Choose dairy and meat products with less saturated fat. Foods higher in saturated fat can lead to higher cholesterol numbers.
  • - Eat more fruit and vegetables. Try to get five to seven servings a day and sneak them in where you can. Add spinach or kale to smoothies.
  • - Take the stairs instead of the elevator or park further out in parking lots for a bit of cardiovascular exercise spread throughout the day.
The Takeaway
Eating more fruits and vegetables, more fiber, less saturated fat, and more heart healthy fats reduces the risk of heart disease. Being mindful of the sugar content and the types of carbohydrate we consume can help manage or reduce our risk of diabetes. Start slow and make a few small swaps at a time. Once a habit is formed, choose another swap and keep building a healthier you!

This article is brought to you by CAULIPOWER®.

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