You have probably heard that to eat healthier, you should cook your meals at home. That’s a fantastic piece of advice, but if your idea of cooking involves two sticks of butter and a fistful of sugar, that bit of wisdom might be incomplete.
To lose weight and lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer, you might need to readjust not only what you eat, but how you prepare your food.
Sticking to leaner meats and plant-based proteins are a good start. Another helpful hint is to substitute some common dietary dangers with healthier options. For example:
Instead of Butter, Try…
Olive Oil. Not only is olive oil tasty, but it has far less of the saturated fat found in butter or margarine. Saturated fats increase your risk of heart disease and cancer.
Applesauce. For baking cakes and quickbreads (but not, unfortunately, cookies), applesauce also makes a terrific substitute for butter. Use it to replace the butter and cut out much of the fat, calories and cholesterol from your favorite recipes.
Instead of Salt, Try …
Herbs and Spices. There is a dizzying variety of herbs and spices that can help flavor a dish without increasing your blood pressure. If you’re intimidated, or if you don’t know your coriander from your cumin, products like Mrs. Dash work wonders. No-sodium spice and herb mixtures will help keep your food both heart-healthy and tasty.
Instead of Starchy Carbs, Try …
Whole Grains. Highly processed, bleached white flour has virtually no nutrients, fiber or vitamins in it. What’s left once these are removed is a health risk for all of us. Instead, opt for brown rice, whole wheat bread, and other whole grains.
Whole grains are digested more slowly and contain a lot of fiber, which keep blood glucose levels from rising too quickly. Eating a diet rich in fiber reduces your risk of diabetes and cancer. For people who need to or want to avoid gluten, quinoa, oats and other whole grains provide the nutrients and fiber that processed flour does not.
Instead of Sugar, Try …
Fruit. I like to freeze berries in ice cube trays and use them to cool – and flavor – water. It’s a refreshing substitute for soda and a far healthier choice. Berries are a great choice for dessert as well as a good substitute for syrup and honey on pancakes or French toast. For baking, Truvia is a good choice.
Instead of Mayonnaise, Try …
Avocado. Tuna salad, chicken salad, a dressing for sandwiches, you name it, avocado can do it. With monounsaturated (or “good”) fat, avocado makes a healthy alternative to mayo’s saturated fat. Avocado also contains fiber, folate and vitamins C, K and B6, which mayonnaise does not.
Most people know what they should eat and why, but when it comes time to prepare a meal, all that knowledge often goes out the window. That is why I tell patients that an important place to start is not the kitchen, but the store. While grocery shopping, sub out the stuff you should avoid with healthier options. This will make meal preparation a lot easier.
You’ll eat healthier and you’ll feel healthier.