Healthy eating doesn't have to be complicated, expensive, overwhelming or disgusting! I am sure that sounds like ridiculous "trainer talk," but it is actually true!
Instead of trying to overhaul all of your eating and lifestyle habits at once -- which often is overwhelming, complicated, expensive and sometimes even disgusting -- give your taste buds and life rhythms time to adjust. Find simple, realistic and effective healthy substitutions.
Basically, find ways to tweak your existing life rhythms for maximum health returns. You can still have pasta, just have bean pasta. Have cereal, just have a low-sugar variation. Enjoy your coffee, just find substations for the sugar.
10 Kathleen-approved healthy substitutions
1. When out and about and "hangry," instead of grabbing the nearest sugary treat, grab a hard-boiled egg
I know from personal experience that when one is hangry the tendency is to grab anything. Instead of mindlessly consuming, consciously chose something low in sugar and high in protein -- something like a hard-boiled egg. Most convenience stores sell them, grocery stores almost always have them, and, worst-case scenario, Starbucks has an egg in their protein box.
Better yet, carry healthy snacks with you; try hard-boiled eggs and cut-up vegetables or an apple and a few almonds.
2. Instead of nutritiously vapid white pasta, have bean pasta, spiralized zucchini or spaghetti squash
Bean pasta has 21 grams of protein in one serving. Combine it with a ton of vegetables for an easy-to-assemble, healthy meal.
Or invest in a spiralizer; make "pasta" out of zucchini (I also love spiralized beets or carrots on salads). Or make "pasta" out of spaghetti squash. Cut the squash lengthwise and bake. Scoop out the stringy inside. Then put nutritious sauce made with lots of vegetables and protein on top.
3. Instead of sweetening your coffee with sugar, try cinnamon
Cinnamon is mildly strong and somewhat sweet, so it works well as a sugar substitute. As an added benefit, it is also healthy; it can help to relieve nausea, vomiting, and indigestion; is beneficial for the heart, lungs, and kidneys; and can protect the body against diabetes since it drastically improves insulin's ability to metabolize blood sugar.
4. Instead of rice, try cauliflower "rice"
Chop cauliflower in the food processor until it resembles rice. Steam it. Then load it with yummy spices and toppings like you would rice. I have to thank my awesome client Trudy for bringing this to my attention!
5. Instead of being heavy on the meat, try chopped mushrooms
Dice mushrooms by hand or with a food processor. Then replace some of the meat in your stews and sauces with the diced mushrooms. Mushrooms have a meaty texture; it will feel like your concoction is meat heavy, when in reality it will be vegetable heavy -- and yummy and nutritious, of course. You have my client Kathryn to thank for this tip.
6. Instead of sugary granola, try Hi-Lo cereal
I don't love most cereals; they tend to be high in sugar and fairly processed. So I encourage my clients to have hard-boiled eggs and vegetables or chia seed "pudding" with berries for breakfast. That said, sometimes convenience is paramount and cereals are convenient. When needed, try Hi-Lo cereal -- it only has three grams of sugar and it has 12 grams of protein. It is crunchy and works nicely in Greek yogurt with berries. Thank my knowledgable colleague Dr. Kendall-Reed for this tip.
7. Instead of muffins, have egg "muffins"
Muffins are convenient -- they are just often full of sugar and fat. Egg muffins are equally convenient, but also nutritious. Make six or 10 mini "egg muffins" every Sunday and eat them through the week. Sauté a bunch of vegetables then place them into separate muffin tins. Mix a bunch of eggs and pour roughly half an egg into each cup. Cook muffins in the oven, then voilà -- a healthy breakfast you can grab as you walk out the door. When you have an extra minute enjoy the "muffin" with some avocado or a piece of whole grain bread.
8. Instead of pizza, have egg "pizza"
I love egg "pizza" -- the egg is basically just a nutritious platform for yummy pizza toppings. First, put egg whites and/or a few full eggs in a pan. Bake until firm -- that is your "pizza" crust! Then add pizza toppings and bake until the topping are cooked. I usually put mushrooms, spinach, and salsa on top -- I adore salsa. Make it with whatever toppings you love -- cheese, veggies, meat -- mixing it up is part of the fun. Sure, you won't be able to hold it like you would a real pizza crust, but trust me, it is tasty, and the firm cooked egg is a perfect vehicle for pizza toppings. Just channel a classy person eating pizza -- eat it with a knife and fork!
9. Instead of ice cream or Fudgsicles, have protein pops
In the summer I sometimes replace my post-workout shake with a yummy and ice cream-esque hit of protein! Protein pops give me the feeling of having a fudge bar or ice cream without the artificial additives and nutritiously vapid calories.
Simply blend together your ingredients, pour into Popsicle molds, let freeze and eat. Easy and delicious! My favourite combo: I usually blend ice with protein powder, almond milk, and maybe half a frozen banana, but feel free to throw in anything you want; try cocoa nibs, almond butter, flax or frozen berries. A client swears by almond extract -- she says it makes her pops taste like cookies. Experiment and see what works for you!
10. Possibly most important, instead of thinking "Will I exercise?" think "WHEN will I exercise"
Make movement a non-negotiable -- a "when" not an "if." Can't get to the gym? No problem; work movement into your day. Walk home from work, pace on conference calls, do exercises in front of the TV, or take your kids to the park and run around or play a sport. Consciously flip your mindset -- intentionally find opportunities to be active instead of excuses to be sedentary.
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