Most people think that they have to get healthy by summer. If they don’t achieve their ideal beach bodies, people tend to abandon fitness goals and forget about diet and exercise. This mentality propels you towards an unhealthy fall and holiday season, which is when most people gain the majority of their weight. Instead of giving up on health, use this midway point in the year as a chance to turn over a new leaf and reset your health goals.
The first step towards a healthier diet involves cleaning out your cabinets and refrigerator. Sugary and salty snacks, canned vegetables or soups, and other packaged things with ridiculously long shelf lives commonly line the shelves of many cabinets and refrigerators in American homes. Eating foods with long shelf lives doesn’t mean you add years to your life. Finding new healthy alternatives can be challenging, but they are out there and more prevalent than you think. Here are a few suggestions to make your kitchen a healthier space.
Some people have no self-control when it comes to chips. One second they are opening the bag and five minutes later they are showering the crumbs into their mouths. Chips are filled with sodium (salt), dyes, processed ingredients, artificial flavors, and trans fats. All of these make it difficult for your body to function optimally.
Swap With: Dehydrated Root Vegetables or Air-Popped Popcorn. Many stores sell dehydrated root vegetables, which don’t have all the processed ingredients that chips have. You can air-pop organic dried kernels in an air-popper yourself. It is an easy and healthy snack, provided you don’t drown the popcorn in butter and salt.
Did you know that canola oil increases your risk of heart disease? It causes arterial build-up and can lead to improper kidney and liver function. Additionally, over 90% of canola oil is genetically modified.
Swap With: Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This is the good stuff! It is rich in heart-healthy fats and contains a variety of antioxidants that are beneficial for fighting inflammation and cholesterol build-up. Unlike canola oil, olive oil is protective against heart disease. Remember, extra virgin olive oil is great for sautéing, but safflower oil may be better if you are cooking at higher temperatures.
Many canned vegetables are laced with BPA, which is an industrial chemical in food or beverage containers. Canned vegetables can be pasteurized, precooked, preserved, and often contain excess sodium and sulfites.
Swap With: Real Vegetables. The average American only consumes about 1/3 of the recommended daily vegetable intake. And canned vegetables don’t count! Try to focus on fresh vegetables because they contain high concentrations of vitamins and minerals. Once you cook the vegetables, the heat begins to kill the nutritional value.
Instant oatmeal is not real oatmeal! They contain so much sugar, corn syrup, trans fats, processed ingredients, and hydrogenated oils. All of these ingredients can increase your cholesterol levels, ultimately increasing your risk of stroke or heart attack. Instant oatmeal packets even contain ingredients that you can’t pronounce! If you can’t pronounce it, avoid it.
Swap With: Steel Cut Oats. Regular, unflavored steel cut oats are a power food, being a great source for plant-based protein and fiber. Additionally, steel cut oats contain compounds that help reduce blood pressure. They have a low glycemic index, which makes them a beneficial food for diabetics. They can be made the night before to avoid the hassle of making breakfast in the morning, and you can add your own fruit for an added nutritional boost.
Most white rice is devoid of nutrients because it is heavily processed. Since it isn’t a whole grain, a lot of the fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients are removed during processing. It isn’t the worst food for your body, but there are better options.
Swap With: Organic Quinoa. It has twice as much fiber as other grains and it’s not even a grain…it’s a seed. A lot of people don’t like quinoa because it is flavorless. The key to enjoying quinoa is to add spices to the water during the cooking process. You can add curry powder, turmeric, pepper, sea salt, oregano, cumin, chili powder, paprika, minced garlic, rosemary, thyme, or any other spices. It is rich in iron, magnesium, and is a great plant-based protein source.
Butter or Butter Spreads:
Butter spreads typically contain hydrogenated oils and trans fats, and regular butter contains a lot of fat. Despite the current hype about butter due to the ketogenic diet, we suggest avoiding butter because of the saturated fats, which contribute to weight gain.
Swap With: Coconut Oil. Coconut oil has been trending in the health world for quite a while. It can help support weight loss, boost the metabolism, and it is beneficial for your skin. Try to opt for virgin, unrefined coconut oil, and if you cook with it, cook on medium heat because coconut oil cannot withstand high temperatures. It is also a 1 to 1 swap with butter, if you are following a recipe.
Most bottled juices and smoothies have turned healthy foods into sugar-laden, processed, unhealthy foods that trick you into thinking that they are healthy. These drinks are heavily processed and pasteurized to the point where the natural nutrients get removed and synthetic vitamins and minerals must be added. Additionally, these drinks have a high sugar content and are incredibly concentrated. It’s like you might as well be drinking a soda!
Swap With: Homemade Smoothies/Juices. Drinking unheated, pure, natural, and cold pressed juices or smoothies is one of the best ways to heal and nourish your cells. Get some fresh fruit and vegetables, throw them in a blender, add ice, blend it up, and there you have a healthy smoothie. Similarly, put fresh fruits and vegetables in a juicer to make nutritious juices. We prefer smoothies because they contain fiber, whereas the fiber gets removed when you run ingredients through a juicer.
These soups are loaded with empty calories, processed dairy products, food dyes, corn syrup, excess sodium, and other chemical fillers that harm the body. We are referring to cream of mushroom, cream of broccoli, corn chowder, and clam chowder soups, among other cream-based varieties.
Swap With: Vegetable Broth & Homemade Soup. Vegetable broth is a great base for homemade soups, so long as you purchase the organic broths without any added sodium. Quickly sauté your favorite vegetables, season the broth with spices, and let them simmer. Eating that is much healthier for your heart, and you get a lot of antioxidants and immune boosting nutrients.
Whey Protein Powder:
Finding the right protein powder can be hard. Don’t resort to whey protein powder because whey protein can cause loss of appetite, gout, osteoporosis, kidney damage, fatigue, headaches, inflammation, or even cramps when taken for extended periods of time. It also has a lot of calories, sugars, and added fats, which contribute to weight gain.
Swap With: Plant-Based Protein Powders. There are a lot of plant-based protein powders on the market now (and we are not talking about soy products). Plant-based protein powders are easily absorbed by the body, which makes it easier for the body to use protein more efficiently. Just remember that some of the biggest animals in the world only eat plants.