Looking to make some healthy food swaps, but don’t know where to begin?
Try swapping out your food choices one at a time.
Swapping out certain foods for more health-building options can help you take baby steps toward better health and curb the overwhelm.
Here are four healthy food swaps to make if you’re just starting on the path to better health:
The problem with many cooking oils like canola oil and vegetable oil, is that they’re refined (meaning highly processed). They’re also 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 nutritional benefits.
Watch how canola oil is actually made here. This is an older video so you’ll notice it says canola oil is healthy!
As a result, we’re left with oils that are rancid before they hit the shelves. This means when we ingest them we’re filling our bodies with inflammatory ingredients, not beneficial fats.
Here is another great article outlining the history behind these oils.
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, flaxseed oil, hemp oil, avocado oil
NOTE: hemp and flax oils have a very low smoke point and should not be used for high-heat cooking.
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 changed so much overtime 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.)
Sourdough is fermented using wild yeasts and bacteria found in the air around us, so bakers don’t need conventionally processed yeasts.
Wild yeast breaks down some of the gluten and adds gut-loving beneficial bacteria.
Don’t have bread at all, however, if you suffer from gluten intolerance, an autoimmune disease, or you have celiac disease.
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. (This is coming from a gal that grew up on an Ontario dairy farm!)
In fact, studies have proven that milk may be detrimental to our bones and other parts of our bodies; not supportive as we once believed.
Just like bread, milk has turned into a highly processed product. It’s not the same as what our grandparents consumed in the past.
At one time, milk was full-fat and raw which, like sourdough bread, is full of beneficial bacteria that our bodies need.
But along with the low-fat craze that once was popular in the ’80s (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, milk lower than full-fat can contain added sugars and fillers to make it taste better.
For example, I was in the U.S. once 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:
Start with high-fat organic milk made from cows grazing on grass. If you don’t feel well after drinking milk, that’s your message it isn’t for you so try a nut or seed milk that doesn’t contain a lot of ingredients.
We have to be careful with nut milks, however, because many 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! Allergic to nuts? Try making milk from hemp, pumpkin or sunflower seeds!
I’ve switched to eating ethically raised meat 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 (cows), seeds/lentils/bugs (chickens).
As a result, they’re healthier which means we’re eating and consuming a more nutritious meat.
When animals are outside more often, they have more Vitamin D making their meat healthier for us to eat [source, source]. When animals eat grass, they have more Omega-3s, and farming practices are better for the environment.
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, environmental, and regenerative 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! ).
Cows also eat other animal and crustacean parts, and fecal matter. They’re given antibiotics because their stomachs can’t handle the feed and they get sick 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 it’s too expensive for you, then 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.
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