A Healthy Start: Change up these 8 things to have a healthier lifestyle!

It’s really difficult to start a healthy lifestyle if you’re new to it.  There are hundreds of different diets and eating programs out there.  Friends and family tell you what worked for them, and countless commercials and advertisements tell you how easy their programs are.  So which one is right for you?

The process of switching to a healthy lifestyle isn’t an easy one.  If you’re not in the right mindset, you may become bitter and feel like you’re being punished.  The reality is, no, you won’t be eating pizza or desserts on a daily basis.  Know anyone that’s thin and is in great health that eats poorly all the time?  Me neither! 80/20 is the way to go. It is about moderation! Yes, have a piece of pizza every once in a while.  The key here is every once in a while.  The 20% of this rule is easy, right? You already know the guilty pleasure foods you love to eat.  Figuring out the 80% is the tricky part. How to do it, what to do, and should this be all at once or in phases.

This part will be completely up to you.  I truly believe it can be done in either fashion—changing everything at once, or a little at a time. In the end, the rabbit and the hare both win!!!

In this case, you slowly exit certain foods out of your diet and replace them with some alternatives.  You know yourself well enough that your will power is not quite there yet.  You’ve struggled with adjusting your food habits before and know that you need a little cushion.  That’s half the battle. Understanding yourself and knowing how you operate.  Then go the slow way.  You can start with the below list all at once, or one at a time.  Do what you personally think you’ll be able to continue and make a part of your healthy lifestyle.  Remember this is about you making this become a part of your life long, daily routine. That 80% that just comes naturally over time.

Top EIGHT things to switch up starting TODAY!

Crackers. Yes, they can be tasty. I get it. They’re crunchy, buttery and salty. But what’s the nutrition value in a cracker? For example, a Saltine Cracker.

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The facts are there. Nothing in a saltine cracker that is a healthy snack.  Disappointing, I know.  If you’re one that just cannot live without crackers, try eating a nut cracker.  Diamond Nut Crackers have many different flavors and the base of their crackers are nut flour and rice flour.  Considering the alternative, these are much better. Use them until you are ready to give up completely.

Bread.  Oh bread.  So many memories of fresh-baked bread at home.  It’s comforting.  The scent will take you back to your childhood.  Waiting for the bread to come out of the oven or toaster.  It can take you back. This will be one of the most difficult things to give up.  Bread is something quick and easy to prepare and more importantly it’s nostalgic.  What’s it giving to your body??

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Same thing here as a cracker.  No nutritional value.  If life cannot be lived without bread try replacing your bread (white, wheat, rye…) with whole sprouted bread.  Ezekiel breads and wraps are a better option than your Wonder Bread!  They are denser and you’ll only need one slice versus two and will keep you fuller much much longer.

Peanut Butter.  Peanut Butter is a tricky topic.  Peanuts are technically a legume, which if you haven’t heard cause inflammation.  In addition to the inflammation, most peanut butters have added salt, oils and sugar to them.  It’s just not necessary!  Again, peanut butter is just something we grew up with and it’s familiar.

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It’s hard to believe there are better options out there, but there are.  There are so many wonderful alternatives to peanut butter. Cashew, Almond or Macadamia nut are just a few to mention.  The fats are these actual nuts are the healthy ones that you want in your healthy menus.  This will be an easy adjustment, one I know you’ll actually prefer!

Refined Sugar.  Sugar.  White table sugar.  I’ve talked about sugar before.  This isn’t a new topic and I’m sure you’ve read all the articles about the dangers of sugar.  Sugar is in EVERYTHING.  I’ve even read recently that it’s in table salt.  What? They even hide it in there.  Like bread, this will be a difficult one to take out of your house.  But in time, your palate will adjust and you’ll actually curb your sweet tooth.  This too has no nutritional value and because it’s has zero fat, it’s often added to foods for taste.  What’s funny is sugar is one of the most addictive things out there, more so than cocaine and this is one of the reasons you’ll find it in so many products. To keep you buying!

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Replacing sugar can be done in a few ways.  One is with Organic Raw Honey.  This is a great option to bake with, use in smoothies and even create a simple syrup with to add in coffee or tea.  Yes, it will taste a little different in the beginning.  But you will come to love the taste.  Another great natural alternative to table sugar are dates. Dates can be added into almost anything to give a touch of sweetness.  I blend mine up with nut milks to bake with.

Pasta.  Momma Mia!  Are you kidding me here?  Nope.  I, too, have a love affair with pasta and eat it once or twice a year, typically homemade.  But eating pasta on a weekly basis to fill up the family needs to end.  It like bread, crackers and sugar just doesn’t have the nutritional value and basically ends up like a lump in your stomach.  It’s yummy, I know, but living a healthful life means eating healthy foods and this just isn’t one of them and has to be put in your 20%!

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My new love for pasta replacement has been spaghetti squash.  I make a spicy batch of homemade sauce and smother all of the squash. It has a very similar texture, almost al dente style!  If that just won’t work, try eating quinoa pastas.  They are a great option to semolina flour pastas!

Cereal.  Hundreds of cereals are on the shelves right now.  HUNDREDS.  It’s easy, portable and almost all of grew up on them (there’s that nostalgia again).  I’ve eaten many bowls of Cap’n Crunch as a kid as I’m sure you have too!  But the average box of cereal is packed with sugar and yes, sometimes will have some vitamins added to trick you into thinking it’s healthy.  The fact is most cereals do not have the fiber and protein needed to get us to a good start to the day.

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Replace with Gluten Free Steel Cut Oats or another breakfast item, like eggs.  Either will give you the nutrition you need and keep you fuller much longer.  It is key first thing in the morning.  You’re just finished an overnight fast and the first thing you eat in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day!

Rice.  White rice is packed with dense calories with no to minimal nutritional value here.  Yes, when I go out I do have rice with certain meals, but it’s just an accompaniment, and not something I eat cups and cups of.  It’s just not needed.  It’s a filler food.  And the funny thing here, it doesn’t keep you full!  Get it out of the pantry!!!

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Rice can be replaced with a few things.  One is cauli rice.  If you haven’t heard of it, look it up.  This can change your world! It’s not as nutty as rice, but it has a similar texture is cooked correctly.  Don’t forget about quinoa.  Although high in carbs, quinoa also has many other benefits like protein to make it a whole food.

Milk.  There is a lot of talk about milk right now.  Personally, I haven’t been a milk drinker since I was a kid. (Feels like I’m drinking lard!)  But I know many people who still drink it daily or have it in their cereal.  There are so many other fruits and veggies that can give you all the nutrients and calcium that milk provides without the fat and hormones that almost all milks have.  Past the age of 2, there is really no reason to drink milk.  Animals in nature don’t even provide milk past a certain age to their young.

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There are so many great alternatives to milk, one being nut milks.  Similar to replacing peanut butter, nut milks can be made at home with a blender, 1 cup soaked nuts and 3 cups water.  Blend. Strain. Done!  You can also find tons of different nut milks in your grocery store.  One thing I love using is canned coconut milk.  This is a great option for replacing not only milk, but cream.

This is for the person that is focused and ready to move forward.  No packaged foods what so ever and maybe a few replacements.

Crackers or Bread:  Use celery, apples or pears!  Give you the crunch you’re looking for without being processed!

Peanut Butter:  Just like above, replace with your favorite (actual) nut or seed.  Almond, cashew or sunflower butters are wonderful.

Sugar:  In the end, sugar is sugar and affects the body the same way.  Be careful here. Choose things on the lower index when looking for a substitute here.  Dates or dried figs are great options when baking or creating puddings.  Organic raw honey too is a perfect option.

Pasta:  Go with spaghetti squash!  It gives a similar texture and has long strings to feel like you’re actually eating spaghetti.

Cereal:  This one is tricky. If you’re looking for a grain free option, go with chia seeds.  If you’re ok with whole grains, try a gluten-free oat, like steel-cut oats.

Rice:  Again, if you’re looking to go grain free, try cauli rice.  It’s another way to get veggies into your meal!

Milk:  So many great options out there.  I’d suggest making your own nut milk. 1 cup soaked nuts with 3 cups of water.  Blend and strain (if you want) and it’s done!  This will keep 5-7 days, if you don’t slurp it up first.

Whichever way you decide to take your path, fast or slow and steady, DO IT.  Don’t feel afraid.  Don’t feel like you’re going to fail. Be positive and know how much better you will feel!  You’ll immediately have more energy, clearer skin and have more focus.

Here’s to your health!

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