If you’re looking to make changes to your health, but don’t know where to begin, one of the first places I tell people to start is to swap-out their food choices one at a time.
Swapping out certain foods for more health-building options can help you take baby steps toward better health without getting too overwhelmed.
Here are four foods I recommend swapping out first if you’re just starting on the path to health:
The problem with oils we see on the shelves these days like, canola oil and vegetable oil, is that they are mostly made from genetically modified seeds (yes seeds, not vegetables!).
These oils are cleaned, bleached, processed at high heat and deodorized which breaks down any nutrition benefits of the oils (watch here how canola oil is actually made. This is an older video so you’ll notice it says canola oil is healthy!).
Here is another great article outlining the history behind these oils.
As a result, we’re left with oils that are rancid before they hit the shelves. That means when we ingest these oils we are filling our bodies with inflammatory ingredients, not beneficial fats.
Healthy Food Swap:
For sautéing: coconut oil, avocado oil or grass-fed butter (more on the truth behind saturated fats here )
For dressings: extra virgin olive oil, flax seed oil, hemp oil, avocado oil (NOTE: hemp and flax oils should not be cooked with since they have a very low smoke point).
"The bread you're buying isn't actually real bread." — Zooey Deschanel
Posted by Your Food's Roots on Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Have you ever taken a look at the ingredient list on your bread bag?
Go ahead take a look now. Depending on what type of bread you eat, you might find all kinds of fillers, oils, and weird ingredients.
Do you think our grandparents and great-grandparents used those ingredients in their bread?
The short answer is no.
Wheat is not what it used to be. It has been changed so much over time that our bodies don’t recognize it, which is just one of the reasons why so many people have a problem with bread and gluten.
Watch the video above for a great explanation.
Healthy Food Swap:
If you’re going to eat bread, go for an organic sourdough as your first switch. (I can’t recommend using a store-bought gluten-free bread because I’ve yet to find a really good one without fillers.)
Why sourdough? Sourdough has been fermented which means that it’s made using wild yeasts and bacteria found in the air around us so conventionally processed yeasts aren’t needed.
Fermentation breaks down some (but not all) of the gluten and sugars found in bread and adds beneficial bacteria that can be better for your gut than regular bread.
That being said, if you already suffer from a gluten intolerance (gas and bloating), an autoimmune disease or you have celiac disease, it isn’t recommended to have bread at all.
Instead try to make meals without bread in mind (here are some simple bread-free meal options).
You could also try making your own gluten-free bread. This course is fantastic!
Milk is a tough one because we’ve been raised to think we need it! We don’t actually need milk to get our daily-dose of calcium and vitamin D.
In fact, some studies have proven that milk may actually be detrimental to our bones and other parts of our bodies—not supportive as we once believed.
Just like bread, milk is not the same as what our grandparents consumed and over the years it has been turned in to a highly-processed product.
Milk at one time was consumed in its full-fat, raw form which, like sourdough bread, is full of beneficial bacteria that our bodies like.
But along with the low-fat craze that once was popular (healthy fats are our friends!), more people demanded low-fat products, hence skim and 1% milk were born rendering milk a more processed product.
These days, depending on what types of milk you drink however, milk lower than full-fat can contain added sugars and fillers to make it taste better.
For example, I was in the U.S. recently and saw 0% fat cream for coffee. Guess what was in it? High fructose corn syrup, sugar and other fillers that don’t need to be in there and that are doing more harm than good to our bodies.
We Also don’t want to be consuming milk that comes from cows who have had antibiotics or hormones—ideally milk should come from cows fed on grass.
These days most of our milk comes from cows who feed on soy and corn which isn’t doing our body any good.
Overall though, milk is one of the first things that a naturopath or nutritionist will tell you to eliminate if you’re suffering from any type of issues with your body.
Milk contains two groups of proteins: one called called caseins and the other called whey, that can interfere with your gut and joints and wreak havoc on your body if you suffer from any type of autoimmune disorder.
Healthy Food Swap:
Try a nut or seed milk that doesn’t contain a lot of ingredients.
We still have to be careful here because many cartons of milks still have questionable ingredients like carrageenan and other fillers that your body won’t like over time either.
Choose a nut milk that is organic, without carrageenan and one with as few ingredients as possible.
You can also make your own milks which is a great idea because you know exactly what’s in them!
For a few years now, I have made the switch to eating meat that are more ethically-raised from smaller farms and that feed their animals grass.
Depending on your beliefs, pasture-raised animals are happier because they are outside more often, they eat what they’re supposed to be eating: grass (beef), seeds/lentils/bugs (chickens)—and as a result, they are healthier which means we’re eating and consuming a more nutritious meat.
Pasture-Raised meat or grass-fed meat has more Vitamin D because the animals have been outside more often; more Omega-3s vitamins because they’re eating grass and again, depending on your views, the farming practices are better for the environment than factory farmed animals.
You can learn more about better environmental farming practices by reading up on Polyface Farms. Joel Salatin and his family are truly the face of the future for ethical and environmental farming.
Factory farmed animals (or animals from concentrated animal feeding operations [CAFOs]) eat anything from genetically modified corn and soy, to candy (yes candy. It fattens them up and makes the feed sweeter! ).
They also eat other animal and crustacean parts and fecal matter, and because their stomachs can’t handle that type of feed, they’re given a large amount of antibiotics because they also get sick way more often.
Cows on these farms also stand and sleep in feces which is one of the main reasons why we have to be careful of e-coli when it comes to eating raw meat.
You can read all about this process in Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma.
As Pollan wrote in his other book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto: You eat what you eat, eats.
Healthy Food Swap:
I strongly encourage you to eat grass-fed meat and pasture-raised chickens from smaller family farms if you can. If you balk at the cost, than eat less of it. We could all eat less meat anyway.
In fact think of food as a condiment, and not the main part of the meal.
If you live outside of Toronto, look for a small farmer who ethically-raises their animals.
That’s it for now. Again, think about making these swaps one at a time and try not to get overwhelmed.
Have you made any of these swaps already?