Eat This, Not That: 10 Healthier Food Swaps

As fall approaches, you may be experiencing a sigh of relief. Why? Because you’ll be putting your bikinis and swimming trunks aside, and digging out all of those heavy winter coats you forgot you even had. That’s why. However, I’d like to challenge you to embrace a new line of thinking.

Try not to be so ecstatic about the fact that your body will be hidden by layers of clothing for months to come. Instead of gorging on all the traditional comfort foods when summer fades, do yourself a favor; substitute some of those shockingly calorie-rich foods with healthier options that are just as, if not more, satisfying. If you continue focusing on your fitness now, you’ll be thanking yourself later. To be more specific, “later” means springtime (when everyone else will be dreadfully dusting off their scales, and immediately joining their local gyms).

After what will certainly be a long winter, the sun will be making an appearance again, and you’ll be more than ready to make your appearance, at the beach. By making smarter eating decisions, you’ll be one step ahead of the game come spring, and in a joyous mood, not a panic. Feel free to use this list as a guide to healthier food choices.

  1. Eat Spaghetti Squash, Not Pasta: Spaghetti squash is actually a fall vegetable. Perfect, right? Just roast the squash, and it can be scraped out in spaghetti-like strands. Skip all the carbs and calories; eat a flavorful “pasta” dish starring mildly sweet and nutty spaghetti squash, instead! In fact, zoodles (spiral-shaped zucchini noodles) work great here, too.
  2. Eat Marinara, Not White Sauce: Luckily, I’ve always preferred red sauces. Choose them over creamy white sauces. Marinara is made of nutritious, savory cooked tomatoes, while alfredo and such is creamy for a reason—butter, flour, heavy cream, and cheese. Let’s just say it’s not “light.”
  3. Eat Quinoa, Not Rice: Quinoa is a protein-packed ancient grain and superfood. It cooks just like rice does, and can be substituted in essentially any rice dish. 
  4. Eat Spinach, Not Iceberg Lettuce: You may have grown up on good ol’ iceberg salads, but it’s time to make the switch because iceberg lettuce offers virtually no nutrients. On the other hand, all of the nutrients in spinach help to boost your metabolism. If it was good enough for Popeye, it should be good enough for you, right?
  5. Eat Oil & Vinegar, Not Creamy Dressing: Drizzle olive oil and tangy balsamic vinegar on your salads because those creamy store-bought dressings are loaded with fat and calories. I dare you to look at the nutrition facts label. Yeah, that’s a lot of bad stuff in just two tablespoons…
  6. Eat Wraps, Not Bread: I discovered brown rice wraps somewhat recently. They have less calories than bread, are full of fiber, reminiscent of flour tortillas, and they’re mess-free! If you’re on an Asian cuisine kick, you can even buy the same nearly calorie-free wraps used for your favorite spring rolls. Also, I’ve always loved a veggie burger wrapped in lettuce. Wrapping your meal up makes for a perfectly delicious on-the-go eat.
  7. Eat Avocados, Not Mayonnaise or Butter: Avocado is a plant-based, healthy fat that contributes to good heart health. Spread the green goodness on your toast or sandwich, instead of butter or mayonnaise, for some extra flavor. Check out these avocado recipes for more inspiration!
  8. Eat Carrots, Not Chips: Once you sit down, in front of the TV, with a bag of chips and dip, there’s no telling how much you’ll eat. The least you can do is swap those fattening potato or tortilla chips out for a bag of carrots or broccoli. By the way, carrots and hummus are the best of friends. Dip away!
  9. Eat Bananas, Not Ice Cream: Call me weird, but I thoroughly enjoy ice cream (yes, even in the winter). If you’re the same way, freeze some organic bananas. Then, blend them with a splash of non-dairy milk, a little bit of unsweetened cocoa powder, and a dash of vanilla. Did someone say chocolate banana ice cream? Try it. The consistency is nothing short of miraculous. Who needs added sugars when bananas are full of natural sweetness?
  10. Drink Water, Not Juice: I know you hear it constantly, but drinking water truly is the key. Don’t be fooled by juice’s healthy reputation. Juice may come from fruit, but it’s full of sugar and calories (not unlike soda). You’d be better off eating a whole fruit and quenching your thirst with a glass of ice cold water.