Smarter and Simpler Food Swaps

It’s a new year and you’re planning on making radical changes to your diet. But if you’re someone who’s used to consuming a diet full of carbohydrates and sugar, making the switch can initially be difficult and it can be easy to derail those healthy eating plans — especially if you don’t know where to begin. However, in order to stay as healthy as possible, it’s a good idea to come up with some healthier solutions when it comes to the foods you eat.

Sandwiches are a staple of many restaurant menus, not to mention a great food item to make at home and pack for that school or work lunch. Traditionally, sandwiches are often made using white bread or wraps. This also means that they’re higher in carbohydrates; and while the contents of your sandwich might be healthy, white bread is not. Instead, swap it for bread that is 100% whole grain, as well as contain ingredients such as wheat and oats. Whole-grain versions of bread not only have fewer carbohydrates, but they’re also higher in fibre and protein which are great for our digestive health, controlling cholesterol and blood sugar levels, preventing heart disease, as well as acting as building blocks for our skin, bones, muscles and cartilage.

Speaking of sandwiches, deli meat is another go-to food, but it is often loaded with preservatives to prolong their shelf-life, in addition to sodium and saturated fat. So that you’re not putting your health in harm’s way, I recommend replacing that deli meat with leaner and lower sodium alternatives, such as tuna, salmon, fresh chicken or turkey breast. To top off your sandwich, you might also reach for certain condiments such as ketchup or mayonnaise, but these also often contain added sugar and other unhealthy ingredients. If you are going to use mayo, try to use one that is light. You can also try swapping it for something like avocado, which will give your sandwich a bit of that same creamy texture and be healthier for you in the long-run, as avocados are loaded with fibre, unsaturated fat, and potassium.

Thinking about slathering jelly on that piece of toast in the morning? Think again. While many jellies and jams are berry-based, they also tend to contain a higher sugar content, which won’t do your health any good. If you want to incorporate more fruit into your diet (regardless of whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, or dinner), you’d be better off by eating the real deal — either berries that are fresh, or even frozen. One cup of blueberries, for example, contains up to 9 grams of fibre, in addition to essential vitamins and antioxidants.

Whether salty or sweet, snacks can also be an issue. If you’re craving the crunch of a potato chip, a good alternative is a bean-based chip — for example, ones that are made with bean flour. A 1-oz bag of bean-based chips can contain upwards of 5 grams of protein and fibre. However, bear in mind that just because they’re a healthier alternative doesn’t mean you should overindulge as they can still be higher in calories (by as much as 150 calories per serving.) Aside from chips, some healthier snack options include raw vegetables with homemade dip, or unsalted nuts.

Originally published at on January 2, 2019.



Dr. Ali Ghahary is a Family Physician in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

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