They say that breaking up is hard to do. But if you’re looking to sever ties with an unhealthy food item the easiest option may be to swap it (rather than drop it). Not one of the alternatives on this list is off-putting, after all, and it could even be argued that they are all more appealing than the items they replace. More importantly, however, all these swaps are easy: No expensive trips to the health-food store, no complicated recipes, and no flavourless let-downs.
If there’s any doubt about the importance of diet to your overall health, maybe it’s time you checked out “The Pledge.” The cornerstone of the second-annual Canadian Men’s Health Week calls on men across the country to commit to four simple lifestyle changes that will help them live healthier, more productive lives. Two of these changes – choosing salad as a side dish and eating more broccoli – mean trading fatty, calorie-rich foods for something more nutritious.
Here, then, are six more swaps that can make a big difference to your health with very little effort:
In: Your favourite fruit
Out: Salty snacks
Do you have a weakness for crunchy potato chips? Apples are crunchy, too. Are doughnuts your weakness? An orange or a banana can be just as sweet, tender and tasty. All these fruits, by the way, are highly portable, so instead of stopping by the vending machine simply drop some produce in your backpack or briefcase for easy access at snack time. Your body, and your bank account, will thank you for it.
Out: Doughy breakfasts
Breakfast foods like bagels, muffins and croissants are full of carbohydrates and fats and very little else. Eggs, meanwhile, are packed with protein that will sustain you until lunch and curb your urge to snack. If you’re short on time in the a.m., boil a couple eggs the night before and eat them with some of that aforementioned fruit.
Out: Ground beef
Lean red meat – not the kind that goes into fatty burger patties – can be good for you. But fish – especially wild salmon, wild tuna, sardines and anchovies – is packed with healthy omega-3′s and light on other fats.
In: Soda water
Out: Soft drinks
If you miss the fizz, there’s nothing wrong with sipping soda water instead of colas and other pops that offer nothing but empty calories. Squeeze in some citrus juice for added zing.
Potatoes are carb-rich blood-sugar boosters, while cauliflower boasts an impressive array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Think you can’t mash cauliflower? Think again: By steaming it, adding a bit of butter and milk and dropping it in the blender, you’ll create a side dish that’s virtually indistinguishable from its starchy, stodgy counterpart.
Want to get your buddies on board? Share these swaps, and encourage them to make Pledges of their own!
Adam Bisby is a Toronto-based freelance journalist and father of two. His award-winning stories have appeared in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and National Post newspapers, in magazines like Explore, Reader’s Digest, International Traveller and Canadian Family, and on websites including MSN, MSN Canada, and DontChangeMuch.ca. Visit Adam’s website for more details on his award winning work.