This post is all about how to improve your wellness game. I’ve got tons of examples of little substitutions you can make to get you on your wellness track and make you healthier than ever.
Pasta. This is such a great one because it’s such an easy staple for dinner, and I feel like over the last 5-10 years, everyone thinks pasta is bad, it’s got lots of carbs…OR maybe we’re just choosing the wrong one. Not all pasta is created equal, and there are so many great options these days. The first thing to look for is gluten free– that will give you a whole range. If you want to take it one step higher, look for high protein pasta (e.g. edamame, black bean, lentil). Don’t be fooled by beautiful packaging and veggies in the name! Oftentimes all that means is that it’s infused with a little bit of that veggie, which still doesn’t make it super healthy. Also always beware of “natural flavors” in the ingredients- that can cover so many things.
Cocoa & Cacao. I’m so passionate about cacao, and I don’t think enough people know about how crazy healthy it is. Cacao and cocoa both come from the same place- a cacao tree. Cacao is one of the highest antioxidant foods on the planet, and it naturally has no sugar. It’s amazing for your skin, amazing for your energy, can lower your blood pressure and is filled with so many antioxidants that can prevent heart disease, improve sleep…so many great benefits. I recommend adding raw cacao to EVERYTHING- oatmeal, smoothie, quinoa, etc.
Then we’ve got cocoa. Cocoa goes through so much processing. Even if we use unsweetened, it’s still not good for you because it’s been so processed that you’re losing all the amazing benefits that come from cacao. I think it’s a little more expensive to get cacao, but not by much. Definitely switch to cacao from cocoa, and you’ll see amazing benefits.
Couscous & Quinoa. Couscous has a pretty healthy reputation. It’s a little more fancy than rice, a little fun, BUT the problem is that it’s literally wheat flour. We all know that gluten isn’t the best thing. Even if you don’t have celiac, still try to avoid gluten because there are ZERO benefits to it. You might not even know that you’re sensitive or intolerant to it. If you ever feel fatigued, bloated, low-energy- you could have a gluten sensitivity. Quinoa is an amazing substitution which is full of protein and fiber.
Table Salt & Sea Salt. In general, we learn that salt is bad for you, but actual sea salt (Himilayan salt, Celtic sea salt) has so many great health benefits. If used in moderation, it’s actually really good for you. Water follows salt, which is why when you eat salty things, you tend to get bloated. Using sea salt once in a while is really good for maintaining your fluids. You need some sort of fluid balance that can regulate your blood pressure, affect your mood, help your digestion and help how you absorb other minerals and nutrients.
My suggestion- never use table salt! Salt in its natural form has so many minerals and nutrients. Table salt is not only heated at a really high temperature (basically stripping it of all health benefits), there are also tons of additives added in (e.g. aluminum, MSG).
Agave & Coconut Nectar. Agave had a really interesting marketing health kick, but people learned that it’s actually not that healthy for you. Naturally occurring agave juice does have health benefits- that’s where this thought process came from. By the time we process it and strip it down, the agave you get as a sweetener has so much fructose.
Not enough people know about coconut nectar. It’s the lowest glycemic index of any of these sweeteners (e.g. honey, maple syrup). Always pay attention to the glycemic index when looking at any kind of sugar. It tells you how quickly your blood sugar spikes- we don’t want it to spike up fast, so when something has a lower glycemic index, it spikes up slower and is better.
Yogurt & Chia Seeds. Some people think yogurt is a healthy snack because of the protein and calcium. For anyone that’s still consuming dairy, even if you don’t want to go vegetarian or vegan, know that dairy is so bad for you. I promise you there are way better sources of calcium (e.g. dark leafy greens, broccoli, calcium supplement). Chia seed pudding is an easy yogurt swap for a snack. Yogurt is terrible for your skin, chia seed pudding is great for your skin. Chia seed pudding also has great fiber, great protein and very close to the calcium content of yogurt.
Cinnamon. I’m obsessed- it adds flavor, adds sweetness, but no sugar, AND it actually regulates your blood sugar. There are different kinds of cinnamon: regular ground cinnamon (cassia) and ceylon cinnamon. The cassia tends to have more coumarin, which can cause liver damage. All in all, the ceylon is just a higher quality cinnamon.
Iced Tea & Green Tea. Anytime you want something besides water, I highly recommend taking any kind of green or white tea bag, putting it into a water bottle with ice and shaking it up for an easy, delicious and refreshing drink. Juices and drinks from the shelf just aren’t as natural.
Sugar & Stevia. Sugar = empty calories. I love Stevia, and I didn’t at first- It’s possible to train your taste buds! Organic Stevia In The Raw is the only powdered sweetener that I use or would recommend. It’s a little more expensive, but the amount you have to use is so much less – one teaspoon of Stevia is needed when the recipe calls for a cup of sugar. Truvia has some other things mixed in, so just stick to plain, raw Stevia.
Honey & Manuka Honey. Honey, in general, has a lot of antibacterial properties. Manuka honey is less processed and is in its purest form. A lot of time, Manuka honey will have the UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) on it, showing its antibacterial activity. It’s more expensive, but if you’re going to have something, I say do it right.
These are just little things you can switch out. Most of them you won’t even notice- some of them you will, but you can transition slowly.