Food Swaps For Healthier Living!

Food Swaps For Healthier Living
  • Whole grains instead of refined, quality preferred than quantity, smart diet swaps can lead to healthier life.
  • Small changes in our diet make our pattern more manageable which will sustain in the long run.
  • You don’t need to totally swap your kitchen to bring a healthy change, you just need to make few clever selections in your food and substitute these with foods that are not so healthy.
  • Hence small and slow changes will always bring flying results.

Since ages, we have been advised to think healthy, eat healthy and live healthy. Some changes and modification here and there will always bring a change in the lifestyle. But sometimes we become skeptical about what to eat and how much to eat. We may not be sure which food to substitute so that we can get the maximum advantage of the food without causing major changes in the taste, appearance and flavor. With variety of foods available easily, we can easily modify the food accordingly and improve the quality of food.

Food Swaps For Healthier Living

Our first step towards healthy living should be to reduce the intake of food that is very much high in calorie fats and sugar. You can substitute them for something healthier including fruits and vegetables. Choosing healthier foods is quite easy and interesting as you can explore towards different avenues and improve the diet. Small changes in your diet can always make a big difference. Let us find out what could be the ways to improve the food quality by slight substitution with healthy foods.

Let us start with the important meal of the day i.e. Breakfast. It is very essential that we make a point to have a healthy and nutritious breakfast that can improve the metabolism in the body.

Food Swaps For Healthier Living

1. Breakfast

Our breakfast should have a correct balance of carbohydrates especially the complex carbohydrates and good quality protein that is not only essential for brain functioning and metabolism but also to reduce the hunger pangs till mid-morning. Our majority of calories of that day should come from the breakfast provided by whole grains, sprouts, dairy products and healthy fats.

  • Swap high-fat milk with semi-skimmed or low-fat milk.
  • Instead of adding sugar to the breakfast cereals, add fresh fruits into the bowl of porridge that would slowly release glucose into the blood.
  • Swap sugary cereals with rolled oats or shredded whole grain cereals without added sugar.
  • If not liking oats for porridge, then substitute with broken wheat for the porridge along with fresh fruits.
  • Why prefer mayonnaise for sandwiches when you can prepare chutney with coriander leaves with a slight dash of roasted peanuts or hung low-fat curd with diced pieces of cucumber and onion.
  • For idlis and dosas, when not try ragi flour or sorghum flour instead of rice while preparing the batter.
  • If planning to prepare savory pancakes, slightly blanched sprouts added into the batter can always improve the quality of the food.
  • Pizzas don’t need to be prepared on white pizza base; you can always prepare pizzas by preparing the pizza base with pearl millet flour and wheat flour, slightly toasting the base, applying the pizza filling and baking the pizza.
  • Prefer low-fat yogurt instead of high-fat yogurt.
  • Even if sandwiches with bread become boring or monotonous, then why not prepare rotis with wheat flour, use these bread instead of bread and apply spreads and chutneys and vegetables on the bread. You will truly love this unique combination.

2. Lunch

Selection of food during lunch is important as we tend to be active during daytime. Hence having proper lunch at correct time helps the body to function well and perform effectively.

  • Swap cream of tomato soup to broth-based soups with few slivers of almonds. Cream-based soups can provide about 500 calories per serving whereas broth-based soup with veggies provides only 124 calories per serving.
  • Frying fish or chicken increases the calories. Instead of frying, why not bring out grilling, baking and steaming skills?
  • Everyone relish for hot and spicy paranthas with the blob of butter melting on the hot paranthas. But why such unhealthy choice that can take a toll on health? Instead try stuffing the rotis with veggies like cabbage or cauliflower or even bottle gourd or mixed vegetables without the addition of oil or butter, believe me, it tastes awesome.
  • Add sprouts of mixed legumes with cucumber and carrot instead of just green salad. Rich in Vitamin C and other nutrients and improve the protein quality of the food.
  • If sweet craving after lunch, then chuck out ice creams or pastries, why not have dates or low-fat yoghurt with pieces of fresh fruits without added sugar.
  • If having rice, then prefer brown rice rather than white rice which is refined and stripped of many nutrients.

3. Dinner

Dinner is supposed to be lighter and eaten two hours before you go off to sleep. Let dinner be a family affair rather than eating before Television or checking the mobiles. Soups, leaner cuts of meats or salads with vinegar based dressing are preferred.

  • Have soups with carbs, protein, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats in correct proportion for dinner.
  • Swap cheesy or creamy sauces with tomato or vegetable sauces on pastas, meat or fish preparation.
  • You don’t need to ditch pasta totally but yes; you can bring a combination of one cup pasta with another half with bulky vegetables like Brussel sprouts, beans and broccoli for fibre and protein.
  • Chuck out mayonnaise or cream sauce on vegetables for salad instead dress the salad lightly with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • Need protein without fat, then prefer turkey and chicken over pork and beef.

4. Snacks

Choosing snacks consciously is essential as snacks are eaten in between the main meals and provide nutrients and can control hunger pangs. However considering the portion size and what to be eaten in snacks always make a difference.

  • Swap a bowl of potato chips with a handful of nuts.
  • Snack on air popped popcorn rather than French fries. Want to have something savory? Just air pop popcorn and drizzle lemon juice over it. 3 cups of popcorn comes up to 100 calories.
  • Swap sugary and creamy doughnuts with whole wheat muffin with 1 spoon nut butter.
  • Love blueberries? Why add blueberries into muffins, rather why not add blue berries into oat meal?
  • Swap baked potato with baked cauliflower as it delivers Vitamin C with calories as low as 27 calories.
  • Swap fried samosas with 2 thin crust wheat crisp bread topped with finely chopped cucumber and tomatoes and a dash of lemon juice and black salt. Tastes yummy and always healthy.
  • Avoid buying readymade wraps from outside, instead prepare wraps at home with ragi flour and wheat flour and you can fill the wraps with vegetable thus providing a filling and healthy snack.
  • If preparing noodles at home, you don’t need to always buy noodle packets from outside, boil it and add into the veggies, instead cut thin strips of rotis and add roti strips instead of noodles. Tastes great.
  • Always in a habit of having a snack bar whenever you feel hungry? Not necessary, a handful of almonds can do the job. A protein bar contains high fructose corn syrups and binding additives. Hence to get protein in natural form, get a handful of almonds that will lengthen the lifespan by reducing the risk towards heart diseases, diabetes, and obesity.

5. Drinks

Just like food is important, what we drink also have an effect on the health. We need to keep ourselves hydrated as it improves the metabolism and keep us active.

  • Swap sugary drinks with a glass of water.
  • Swap fruit juice concentrate and aerated drinks with a glass of coconut water or a glass of buttermilk. Fruit juice concentrate or aerated drink may be convenient to drink but from the health point of view is not at all good.
  • Drink fruit based detox water instead of soda. Variate in slices of fresh fruits in water that can bring out interesting flavors and give importance to health.
  • Prefer black coffee over a latte. If caffeine craving is calling, then prefer simple black coffee if possible without sugar. An extravagant coffee like creamy mocha Frappuccino is not worth the cost as well as calories.

Thus, variation can be done in our daily diet by the foods that are readily available and without any drastic change in our everyday pattern. As we say Slow and steady wins the race, same way very simple and easy diet swaps will always bring positive results.

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Mrs. Anita Varier is a Post Graduate in Home Science with specialization in Food Science and Nutrition from S.N.D.T Women's University, Mumbai. She cleared her NET(Lecturership) exam in 2004 and taught students at Post Graduate level. Some of her works have been published in dietetic journals and websites, the most notable being "Blending of edible oils to achieve nutritionally favourable fatty acid ratios" in Journal of Oil Technologists' Association of India. She is an avid reader and shows immense interest in the field of art like dance and music.

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