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FEATURES Oct 15 2012 1:06AM

5 Healthy Food Swaps for Better Eating Habits

by Fran of HeyFranHey.com
The biggest misconception about eating healthier foods is that the transition has to be done overnight. When I decided to change my eating habits, I gradually eased into the cleaner lifestyle so it would be a more sustainable change. Granted, there are people who work best under pressure and can cut things out cold turkey! But for the rest of us, baby steps can be key. The common side effect of doing too much too soon is binging. To avoid this seemingly uncontrollable impulse, try incorporating healthier foods instead of focusing on depriving yourself. Here are five quick and easy food swaps to help you start your journey into clean eating!
White Rice, Brown Rice, Quinoa & Millet
Did you know White Rice is actually Brown Rice? White Rice is the result of processing! The essential oils, fiber and nutrients are completely stripped in order to allow for a longer shelf life. Considering all of the health benefits have been removed, it’s not the ideal choice for those looking to improve their diets. And while Brown Rice is clearly the go-to option to obtain more nutrients, it’s definitely not the only one! Next time you’re grocery shopping, look into whole grains like Quinoa and Millet, as well! 1 cup of Brown Rice contains 215 calories, 5g of protein and 3.5 grams of fiber. Quinoa, on the other hand, contains 220 calories with 8g of protein and 5g of fiber! So while the calories may be a little higher, the nutritional value is well worth it. Millet is also higher in protein than Brown Rice with 6g per cup and a higher rating as far as essential minerals needed for bone, muscle and nerve health!
Grass-Fed and Non-Medicated Meat & Poultry
These are two important terms to look for when purchasing meat and poultry! Grass-fed and Non-Medicated means the animals were farmed naturally.  This ensures your livestock was pasture-raised (allowed to roam freely and not in unhealthy cages and conditions), free of antibiotics and growth hormones.
Cow’s Milk, Almond Milk & Coconut Milk
There is always an intense debate surrounding the consumption of cow’s milk. Stemming from those who feel the milk is not intended for humans, being that it’s produced after a calf is born. As well as the controversies on how the cows are treated and fed in order to fulfill the demands of mass production. Regardless of what one may believe, it’s always best to play it safe with healthier alternatives. While cow’s milk is extremely high in protein, up to 8 grams per serving, when compared to Almond and Coconut’s 1 gram per serving (each), the fat and cholesterol content is equally as high and to be considered. Cow’s milk averages 125 calories per cup, while Almond is 40 calories and Coconut is 50 calories. In addition, cow’s milk contains lactose, which most people find difficulty digesting. Both Almond and Coconut milk are loaded with essential nutrients, free of saturated fats and cholesterol and gluten free. Just something to consider the next time you’re craving a smoothie, whipping up oatmeal or pouring a bowl of cereal!
White Bread, Spelt Bread and Ezekial Bread
Similar to the processing of White Rice, White Bread is the stripped version of Wheat Bread. All of the nutritional value is lost since the focus is on its shelf life and mass production. White flour is so refined; you’d have to eat an entire loaf to get the same amount of nutrients in one piece of Wheat bread. Healthier alternatives would be Spelt and Ezekial breads! These breads are high in protein and have high water solubility, making them a lot easier to digest. Loaded with significantly higher amounts of essential vitamins and minerals, these sprouted grains are much better options for your health and fitness goals!
Croutons & Walnuts
I always notice people piling on the croutons over their “healthy” salads! And we won’t even get into their choices for dressing! That’s for another day! Croutons are what we would place in the “bad carbs” folder. These can cause major spikes in your cholesterol levels. My favorite swap for them would most definitely be walnuts! Not only do they help lower cholesterol, but they’re also loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids which help aid in the creation of beautiful skin, hair and nails. Not a bad perk!


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