Try These Tasty Alternatives to Your Favorite Foods

When you have a craving you suspect is less than good for you, complete denial isn’t always the answer.


Swap That For This

Boxed cereal with cold, whole milk or instant flavored oatmeal

Oats or ancient grains like bulgur, quinoa, or millet with an unsweetened nut milk, nuts, and 1 tsp maple syrup or local honey

Single-serving container of flavored yogurt

Unsweetened 2% Greek yogurt with nuts, fresh berries, and cinnamon

Bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit or muffin from a frozen box or fast-food joint

Eggs with avocado, greens, and sprouted grain toast

Why am I making this change? Processed foods such as these contain tons of hidden sugar and additives, plus simple carbs, causing an energy crash. You need fiber, protein, and healthy fat to stay full and energized until lunch. Also, try to squeeze in vegetables right away to get your daily minimum of five.



Swap That For This

Bacon-cheddar burger on a white bun with fries

Black bean, turkey, or salmon burger topped with onion, tomato, and avocado on a whole-grain bun (or swap for a lettuce wrap) with a side salad

Two slices of pepperoni pizza and a Coke

Whole-wheat flatbread or pita with olive oil, caramelized onions, mushrooms, and pecorino

Why am I making this change? Red meat, a lot of full-fat dairy, and white, simple carbs make a treacherous trio of saturated fat and empty calories. Also, beef from anything other than grass-fed, organic cattle is potentially laden with antibiotics and hormones. These foods will leave you leaden and wanting to nap at your desk. The trick is to have filling, nutritious foods with complex carbs, healthier proteins, and fats.



Swap That For This

French fries

Baked sweet-potato fries

Potato chips

Spiced kale chips, seed crackers, and hummus

Granola bar or other “healthy” bar

Handful of raw almonds or pecans and a piece of whole fruit

Why am I making this change? Baked, not swimming in frying oil, is a wise choice for your potato. And the bright-orange color in sweet potatoes provides a nice dose of beta carotene and vitamin A. Granola bars contain a ton of hidden sugars. Make sure your nuts are not candied or coated in something sweet.



Swap That For This

Macaroni and cheese

Use whole-wheat pasta instead of white, halve the amount, and replace with cauliflower.

Burrito in a white flour tortilla with refried beans, white rice, ground beef, cheddar, and sour cream

Burrito in a whole-wheat tortilla with whole black beans, ground turkey, guacamole, and veggies

Pasta with beefy Bolognese and powdered Parmesan

Try half whole-wheat, ancient grain, lentil, bean, or chickpea pasta with half zucchini noodles, marinara using ground chicken, and
real Parmesan.

Why am I making this change? Sneak in vegetables with pasta dishes wherever you can to lower calories, increase fiber, and add more vitamins and minerals. (When pasta is slathered in a sauce, you won’t notice the swap as much.) And when you want Parmesan, just use the real thing. It’s less processed and is so flavorful, you can get away with using less. In the burrito, ditch the rice and refried beans, focusing on good fat of avocado, and fill in as many veggies as possible.



Swap That For This

Ice cream or frozen yogurt

“Nice” cream, which is made from a pureé of frozen banana, plus flavorings of your choice, such as peanut butter, raspberries, or dark cocoa powder

Chocolate chip cookies

Chickpea cookies with either dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs add nuts and oats if you want something heartier.

Why am I making this change? Bananas have a lot of natural sugar, but they’re lower in calories and have more fiber than dairy ice cream. Don’t be fooled by frozen yogurt: It has a lower fat content than ice cream but more sugar. There are a lot of recipes for cookies using alternative flours. A little local honey is better than processed white sugar.


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