When we’re use to fueling up on gut-undermining, inflammatory foods like sugar, wheat and dairy, the idea of purging them from the diet can seem like a tall order. Without carb-dense staples like bread, rice and pasta, one might wonder – what else is there? Lots more than you realize. To heal the body, and in particular your gut – quickly, you’ll need to swap out the nutritionally bankrupt items for real foods with real benefits – foods that make you well instead of sick. To get started on the path to wellness, here are ten easy-to-do food swaps to start upgrading your health today…
1. Makeover your morning Joe
Trade your venti frappuccino sugar-bomb for a rich, satisfying cup of ‘bulletproof’ coffee. You’ll get a similar thick, creamy texture minus the sugar and dairy, plus a hunger and brain fog-taming energy boost from the brew’s MCT oil. Look for coffee that’s certified organic and Fair Trade, so your brew is gentler to the people who grow it, the earth, and your body. Something important to note – this is only recommended for people who are on a low carb diet.
2. Smarten up your cereal
Trade grain-packed, processed breakfast cereals for a filling, immunity-boosting, grain-free DIY version, recommended by Be Well’s Amanda Carney: Combine your choice of nuts and seeds (usually about ½ cup total) into a small bowl. Mix in unsweetened coconut, cinnamon, and fresh berries. Top with unsweetened almond or coconut milk – and voila, your low-sugar, gluten and dairy-free breakfast is served!
3. Get smart about fruit
Trade super sweet pineapples, papayas and mangos for low-sugar, antioxidant-rich, easy-to-prep blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. Like a bit more of a tangy kick? Add grapefruit to your low-sugar morning mix. For an added bonus, pair fruit with satiating healthy fats such as nut and seed butters or coconut yogurt.
4. Empty the sugar bowl
Trade sugar, artificial sweeteners, and even agave and honey for a little organic stevia or monk fruit, which have little impact on blood sugar. Over time, reduce these substitutions and start re-familiarizing your tastebuds with the real taste of food. Eventually, you’ll likely be able to drop the stuff altogether.
5. Drink like a grown-up
Trade addictive sugary sodas, diet sodas and fruit juices for truly refreshing mineral water with lime, or organic black, white, red or hibiscus teas. Mineral water can be helpful for balancing electrolytes, while teas are loaded with antioxidants and contain other beneficial and medicinal qualities. Sugary drinks however, have the opposite effect.
6. Rock your salt
Trade chemically ‘cleaned’ table salt for mineral-rich, Himalayan salt which is toxin and pollutant-free. Sea salt is another option, but source carefully to make sure it’s harvested from the cleanest waters possible.
7. Rethink your bread
Trade wheat and grain-based breads for healthy, organic, veggie-based loaves made with almond or coconut flours – or try this delicious Paleo version that helps support health rather than undermine it.
8. Wrap up your lunch
Trade sandwich bread and grain-heavy ‘wraps’ for leafy ones. Crunchy romaine, collard greens, kale leaves or seaweed sheets are a simple, plant-based way to wrap your lunchtime sandwich fillings up in layer of health-supporting nutrients.
9. Say ‘basta!’ to pasta
Trade old-school pasta for spaghetti squash. It’s low-carb, low-sodium, low calorie and rich in nutrients, including vitamin A and potassium. The perfect delivery vehicle for home-made sauces, this plant-based ‘noodle’ delivers the taste and texture you love without blood sugar spikes and post-pasta crashes. You can also use a spiralizer to make zucchini noodles, or other colorful alternatives.
10. Mind your sweets and treats
Trade sweets for an occasional 1 oz square of dark chocolate, 70% cacao or higher. Make sure it’s dairy-free to take advantage of its antioxidants and cell-protective effects, and organic to make the most of them.