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Healthy Swaps. Not sacrifices.

This article was originally written for the Katy Trail Weekly

Diets are not sustainable for a number of reasons, but often because they can feel overly restrictive and limiting. When the pendulum swings to one extreme, it often swings back. 

Skip the extremes and discover lasting and sustainable results with healthy lifestyle swaps that anyone can start implementing right away. 

Little daily swaps can help you to feel better faster, without also feeling like you are missing out on foods and flavors you love.

These are 5 of my favorite Lifestyle Swaps:

#1 — Hold the extra dressing and instead find yourself a seasoning blend you love. I am a big fan of raw leafy greens appropriately dressed with a delicious dressing, but often times when we keep drizzling our salads with dressing, we are adding unnecessary calories and fat to an otherwise healthy meal.

Not to mention, many dressing on the market contain inflammatory vegetables oils, like canola and soybean oil, sugar, processed flavoring agents, iodized salt, and thickeners, like xantham gum. These additives can wreak havoc on the digestive system. Why add unnecessary issues when what you really want is extra flavor? Finding a salt-free seasoning blend, like Bragg’s “Sprinkle” seasoning puts you completely in control of the flavor, without the extra calories, or unwanted additives. Instead of grabbing that Italian dressing from the fridge with 64 ingredients, try using olive oil, apple cider vinegar and Bragg’s seasoning blend with a pinch of salt. You will never dread a salad again. In fact, use it on other dishes, instead of additional butter, or oil.

#2 — Cut back on carbs, not sauce. While some people thrive on carbs, most of my clients quite simply, do not. That does not mean you need to miss out on your favorite marinara, or buttery garlic sauce. Instead of that gluten-free, or whole wheat pasta, try adding fresh julienned raw summer squash, or zoodles (zucchini noodles) to your hot marinade. These veggies are rather neutral in flavor, but packed with nutrients and fiber that will not only nourish the body, but keep you full. No fresh veggies on hand? Hearts of Palm pasta, available at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, does not require refrigeration and will last well in your pantry. Hearts of Palm pasta is low in carbohydrates and will easily absorb the flavors in your pan. As long as your sauce is on point, you can eat “pasta” guilt-free, without sacrificing flavor. 

#3 — After years of working with clients, I noticed a common theme: We are often using a less healthy “vehicle” to get us to our dip of choice and we instinctually love eating with our hands. Instead of grabbing a chip to reach the guacamole, opt for fresh raw veggies. Instead of reaching for those fries to dive into that pile of ketchup, try dipping perfectly seasoned sautéed vegetables. Instead of that cracker and cheese combination, stick with the solo slice of cheese, or add it to a fresh cucumber, or zucchini slice. While a vegetable will never be a French fry, my clients have always been amazed at how much they were still satisfied skipping the vehicle and enjoying the condiment. 

#4 — Carry your own healthier sweetener with you. It is amazing how much sugar restaurants can add to beverages like sweet teas and margaritas. Don’t be afraid to carry your own low calorie sweetener, like monk fruit, or liquid stevia (glycerin free), and sweeten your beverages yourself. 

#5– This is not a “swap” but rather an “add.” Enjoy a small salad with lunch and dinner. Whether you are eating a filet mignon, or a slice of pizza, enjoy your entree with a bed of leafy greens and a simple dressing. Not only will you feel less inclined to over eat, but the fiber and enzymes in your fresh greens can help to facilitate the digestion of your heavier meal, reduce bloating and improve your metabolism. 

Skip the diets and have fun with your food. 

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