Does eating healthier mean giving up your favorite comfort foods and flavors?
Not necessarily. With a few simple substitutions, you can eliminate the foods that promote fat gain and poor health and replace them with better alternatives that not only taste great, but actually enhance your health and fat loss efforts!
- Stevia – Stevia is the most popular of the “natural” nonsugar sweeteners. It is versatile and can be used for any application in which sugar is called for. It is available in both liquid (ideal for adding to beverages) and powder (ideal for baking) form.
- Xylitol – Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that is found in many fruits and vegetables. It does provide 2/3 as many calories as sugar, but without the downside of being too quickly absorbed. It can also help fight dental bacteria and promote fresh breathe!
- Raw Honey – Honey is very sweet as it is a natural source of sugar, including fructose. But before the sugar scares you off, realize that research has shown that when feeding rats sugar and honey, sugar resulted in a negative effect on triglycerides and oxidation while honey didn’t have these negative effects. Not to mention honey has been used for thousands of years as a health food. It is filled with beneficial enzymes and minerals making it a nutritious sweetener rather than a source of empty calories like refined sugar. I suggest getting a local raw honey as well which can build tolerance towards local allergens. Despite its relative safety, it should still be consumed in moderation and limited by those with sugar sensitivities.
- Unsulphured Blackstrap Molasses – While blackstrap molasses isn’t the sweetest, it is actually a health food that was often used for its healing qualities. It is filled with all the beneficial minerals that are stripped out of refined sugar and can even be used as an inexpensive mineral supplement.
Do you crave salty snacks? Perhaps that’s because your body knows the health benefits of salt in its true, mineral rich form. While the best forms of sodium are likely vegetables such as celery and kelp, there may be some evidence that cutting back on salt isn’t the answer to better health. Some studies have shown that salt is not only a nonissue for blood pressure except for a small fraction of individuals, but cutting back on it can increase the likelihood of death!
I believe that using an unrefined salt is not only an acceptable substitute for regular salt, but can actually be healthy and useful for individuals wishing to improve adrenal function and restore trace minerals almost everyone is deficient in. Some salts, like Dead Sea Salts, are rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium in addition to their sodium content.
Good salts are any unrefined salts such as:
- Himalayan Salt
- Dead Sea Salt
- Celtic Sea Salt
One of the worst things to ingest are the highly unnatural and refined vegetable oils like canola and soy oil. Even worse are the trans-fats (anything that reads partiallyhyrogenated) common in processed snacks and baked goods. But even healthier oils like olive oil can be damaged and rendered rancid when cooking.
So what can you do if you have a recipe that calls for heavy amounts of oil?
Utilize these healthier oils for your cooking and general health needs:
- Coconut Oil – Great for fat loss and very heat stable. High in beneficial a type of saturated fat called medium chain triglycerides that can actually help burn body fat!
- Palm Oil – Rich in vitamin E and antioxidants. Safe for high temperature cooking.
- Macadamia Oil – Excellent for high temperature cooking and a great source of Omega 7 fatty acids. Omega 7 (Palmitoleic Acid) has many benefits including aiding the digestive track and it is a powerful antioxidant.
- Applesauce – While not an oil, applesauce can be used in exchange for oils in baked good recipes in a 1:1 ratio. For instance, 1 cup of applesauce can replace 1 cup of vegetable oil.
Safe Grain Substitutes
If you’re striving to reduce your intake of gluten or grains, then it can be a challenge to find a suitable flour replacement. Here are some good flour alternatives:
- Almond flour – Healthy fats and a rich flavor. Good for breads.
- Buckwheat Flour – High in protein and rich in D-Chiro- Inositol which helps blood sugar balance.
- Zucchini – Can be used to replace noodles for pasta recipes.
- Coconut Flour – Typically mixed with other flours, coconut flour is high in fiber.
- Quinoa – A tasty dish that is cooked up similar to rice. Rich in protein and nutrients. As it has gained popularity, there are some companies that make quinoa noodles and other wheat substitutes with quinoa.
Safe Dairy Substitutes
I want to point out that cultured dairy like kefir and raw dairy may still be tolerated well by those otherwise sensitive to conventional dairy products. This is because the probiotics present in these foods help pre-digest the lactose and casein. Even for the general population I recommend utilizing cultured dairy far more than non-cultured dairy.
Many people when looking to get away from dairy turn to soy milk and soy products. I do NOT recommend this as these soy products may have negative effects on hormones. While a little bit of organic soy won’t hurt every now and then, daily consumption isn’t suggest. Instead, try some of these better dairy alternatives:
- Hemp Milk
- Coconut Milk
- Almond Milk
- Oat Milk