Tradesies! Trading your food for the Healthier Version!

Remember how you used to trade lunches at school, scamming a much more appetizing meal from your friend for the boring "same-old" that your mom packed for you? Well, with that spirit in mind, let's look at some basic trades you can make in your food choices to make you leaner, healthier and even smarter!

1. Trade pasta for spaghetti squash!
For the uninitiated into the wonderful world of this yellow God of a vegetable, it really is easy and it is so much healthier for you! It has a significantly lower glycemic index, which means that it releases sugars slower into your blood stream. What does that mean for you? It means you burn more stored fat, store less of your food as fat, and have a stable mood and energy level. If that's not enough, it an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamins B6 and C, niacin, pantothenic acid, potassium and manganese (trust me, that's good!). And to top it all off - it's cheap and DELICIOUS! I like to cut it in half lengthwise, throw it in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, then scoop out the flesh with a fork (it will come out noodle-y, hence its name) and top with some chicken breast, roasted tomatoes, garlic, coconut oil and a little Parmesan cheese...hmmmm...I am salivating! Guess what I am having for dinner!

2. Trade breakfast cereal for steel-cut oatmeal, berries, protein and oil.
Traditional cereal is just SOOO not healthy for you. Of course, you're thinking, that's because of the added sugar, right? Well, yes, but that is only part of the story. In his book Fighting the Food Giants, Paul Stitt reports that cereal, regardless of whether its from a health food store or a grocery store, is produced using the "extrusion process" which destroys the nutrients in the grains (even the chemical nutrients added at the end) and even makes some of the amino acids toxic. He also tells us about an experiment conducted by a cereal company in which four sets of rats were given special diets. One group received plain whole wheat, water and synthetic vitamins and minerals. A second group received puffed wheat (an extruded cereal, but a "healthy" one, right?), water and the same nutrient solution. A third set was given only water. A fourth set was given nothing but water and chemical nutrients. The rats that received the whole wheat lived over a year on this diet. The rats that ate only water and vitamins lived about two months; the animals fed on water alone lived about a month. But the company's own laboratory study showed that the rats given the vitamins, water and all the puffed wheat they wanted died within two week - they died before the rats that received no food at all! It wasn't a matter of the rats dying of malnutrition. Autopsy revealed dysfunction of the pancreas, liver and kidneys and degeneration of the nerves of the spine, all signs of insulin shock. Another study showed that rats fed the Cornflakes cardboard box lived longer than rats fed the actual cornflakes!

So what makes steel-cut oatmeal better? Let me tell you! It has been minimally processed (only cut into 2 or three pieces by a steel blade) so it retains its nutrient profile, as well as all of the fiber that allows for a slow release of sugar into the body (and a lessened insulin response, critical for weight management and overall health). Add some berries for their amazing antioxidant properties (which keep you young and disease-free!), protein powder (NOT soy - I like a product called Vega) and some coconut oil so that you can absorb the nutrients (as well as balance hormones, fire up your metabolism and keep you full longer) and you have a winner breakfast!

3. Trade your Tofu for lean, organic meat!
Ok, settle down, vegetarians and vegans - your choice to not eat meat is 100% OK with me (though PLEASE don't eat so much soy!). However, for the average Joe who thinks of soy as a health food, BACK AWAY FROM THE TOFU! Since the 70s, soy has been touted as a miracle health food. Now, due to its cheap production, it has become ubiquitous in our food system, leading to food sensitivities (which cause symptoms like bloating, toxic weight gain, joint pain, skin problems and excess mucous). It also appears to have a negative affect on the thyroid (leading to weight gain, lethargy and skin problems) and the entire hormone system. Add the fact that it is HEAVILY genetically-modified (studies show increase mortality rates in baby rats when GM soy is fed to the pregnant mothers) does not helps its case as a health food.

So instead of opting for soy, chose organic, free range chicken or wild salmon, or any of the other sources of lean protein are a much better option (there are vegetarian sources, but know that the assimilation by our body of non-animal protein is much less, and therefore you need to eat a lot more). You should be having 6-8oz, depending on your activity level (1.5 to 2 decks of cards or the palm of your hand) of protein at every meal.

Eating healthy does not have to mean suffering and denial. Food should be delicious and enjoyable, and with a few adjustments, it can be nutritious too!

Happy eating!

Author's Bio: 

Kristi Shmyr started out her career as a young girl growing up in Northern Alberta, Canada. Medicine and medical care were rarities, and Kristi learned the value of nutrition, herbs and reflexology at a young age (her grandmother even used acupressure to avoid stopping for bathroom breaks when driving!). After a five-year career in criminology, working with At Risk Children and Young Offenders, Kristi realized her true love lied with alternative, holistic health.

Kristi started her own Holistic Health Center in Edmonton in 2007 and works hard to ensure her clients enjoy all the health, happiness and success that they can handle!