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Are you ready to eat healthier, but unsure where to begin? The easiest way to get on the track to healthy eating habits is to start small, making little changes along the way. Every time you swap out an unhealthy food for a healthier one, congratulate yourself on your victory!
Here are a day’s worth of healthy food swaps that can launch you on the road to better health.
Instead of a Breakfast Burrito…
The breakfast burrito, full of cheese, sour cream and even, is a calorie-dense way to start your day. A single tortilla can add as many as 200 calories to your meal, and that’s before you fill it with anything.
Try a Vegetable Omelet
A vegetable omelet is a perfect way to start your day- it’s eggs pack a big punch of protein. Studies have shown that a high-protein breakfast helps you feel fuller throughout the day than a lower-protein breakfast. This even decreases evening snacking.
The omelet’s veggies offer you vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber that will fill you up without a lot of calories. If you’re craving southwestern flavor, use bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and jalapenos, and garnish your omelet with pico de gallo.
Instead of a Large Mocha or Latte…
A large mocha can contain over 350 calories, and a flavored latte of the same size can contain up to 35 grams of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends a daily sugar intake of 25 grams or less for women and 37 grams or less for men.
Try an Americano or Cappuccino
A caffe Americano is espresso combined with hot water to make it similar in strength and taste to brewed coffee but with the flavor of espresso. A large Americano is only 15 calories, with 0 fat and 0 sugar (as long as you don’t add any).
If you still want that velvety, creamy texture in your drink, a cappuccino froths up milk and adds it to espresso. With less milk than a latte, you can still get a foamy cup made with 2% milk and come in around 120 calories with 10 grams of sugar and 4 grams of fat, as long as you skip the flavored syrup.
Instead of Wheat Bread for Your Sandwich…
Wheat bread may seem like a healthy choice, but most wheat breads are made from refined bleached flour. Refined flour products are digested quickly and can cause blood sugar to spike and then rapidly drop. This rapid rise and fall in blood sugar can cause even more hunger soon after a meal.
Try Sprouted Grain Bread
Breads made from sprouted grains are very different from refined wheat bread. Sprouted grain breads consist of grains like wheat, barley, millet and spelt, and often contain legumes like lentils and soybeans too. These grains and legumes are soaked and allowed to sprout, essentially turning them into a “living” plant.
The process of sprouting can increase beneficial nutrients, like lysine, fiber and vitamins, and decrease the amount of phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors found in other breads made from grains.
Instead of Mayo…
The ingredient list on your jarred mayonnaise might contain soybean oil, corn oil or a vegetable oil blend, along with a host of preservatives and artificial ingredients. Low-fat versions may have added sugar as well. It’s a good idea to hold the mayo.
Try Mashed Avocado
Avocado can provide your sandwich a similar creamy texture to mayo, but it has more beneficial nutrients and fewer unsavory ingredients. Avocados are full of vitamins K, C, E and B-vitamins, along with more potassium than a banana. Yes, avocados are high in fat, but it’s a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, which has been shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
One serving of avocado is 1 oz, or approximately ⅕ of a whole avocado; it has 50 calories and 4.5 grams of fat. It’s easy to overdo it with avocado, so measure out one serving at a time to keep your calorie count low.
Instead of a Steak…
A steak can provide plenty of protein and beneficial, energy-boosting iron to your diet. Despite a pervasive myth, a new study suggests that red meat does not increase inflammation in the body. However, a meta-analysis of 10 studies looked at a possible link between red meat consumption and increased risk of colorectal cancer, and supports limiting red meat (and processed meats) to decrease the risk of these specific cancers.
Once a week, swap out your steak for salmon instead. Like steak, salmon is a good source of iron, needed to make hemoglobin in red blood cells and myoglobin in muscles. Salmon can positively benefit metabolism with its unique combination of omega-3 essential fatty acids, vitamin D and selenium, which combine to lower blood sugar levels throughout the body.
Lowering the amounts of calories and sugars you consume during the day can help you lose weight, and adding nutrient dense foods full of beneficial vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber can have positive impacts on your overall health. It’s time to make some smart swaps!