I’m no paragon of health (Russell Stover’s Thanksgiving gift, I’m looking at you), but reading this article reinforced my belief that limiting processed sugar, refined oils, and starchy carbs (particularly gluten-filled ones) is extremely important to our health. I followed a Paleo diet for close to two years, after which I switched to gluten-free, low-processed-food, mostly-whole-foods eating.
When I’m eating cleaner, I feel it through my whole body. (and when I’m not eating well, I feel it too) Making a positive impact on mental clarity and physical energy is not complicated. These are the simplest substitutions that have the biggest effect:
Switch out the sugar. Look at your labels and stop eating the sugar. If you see high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, dextrose, sugar, or a whole host of other sneaky names, put it back. Keep looking til you find a brand that doesn’t have sugar added.
Or make your own! For baking and cooking these are the healthier options I love: coconut sugar, raw honey (i usually buy mine at the farmer’s market, but this looks amazing!), or maple syrup. When baking, you can do a one to one substitution of coconut sugar. For maple syrup and honey you will need to adjust the wet/dry ingredients.
Know your oils. Vegetable oils, particularly canola oil, are not good for our bodies. They are highly processed and mostly genetically modified. Additionally, while olive oil is great for eating, it’s not great for cooking! It has a low smoke point which means it’s not stable when heated to cooking temperatures. I mainly use avocado oil for cooking and coconut oil for baking. Olive oil is great for salad dressing or drizzling on cooked pasta!
Go grain-free or get good grains. When grains are processed by our bodies, they tend to cause inflammation. The more processed the grain, the more likely it is to lead to inflammation. Inflammation can feel like aches and pains in our bodies, or can have much more serious effects on our organs. Switching to whole grains–or opting out of grains entirely–can have a huge effect on our health.
We eat gluten-free at our house, but we still eat brown rice, brown rice pasta, and other non-gluten grains from time to time. We try not to let grains be the staple of our meals. For baking I will sometimes use baking mixes. I prefer to substitute a mix of almond flour and coconut flour in place of wheat flour, as I find them to be healthier and less inflammatory.
There are many, many ways to switch from the Standard American Diet to a better way of eating. We can make drastic changes (and maybe you need to!), but sometimes simple steps lead to a lasting change. These are the easiest ways I’ve found to provide wholesome nutrition for myself and my family!
What about you? Have you found substitutions to make your life healthier? Do you see the link between what you put in your body and how you feel? I’d love to know what works for you!