Written by Erika Martin BSc Nutrition Candidate
Reviewed by Andrea Miller MHSc, RD
Most of us have heard that it is better to eat whole wheat bread than white bread, or skim milk instead of whole milk. Whole wheat bread has more nutrients, and skim milk has a lower fat content – both healthy food swaps. While these swaps may seem small, depending on your health goals, they can make a significant difference over time. These are just some of the many possibilities of foods that can be swapped out with healthier alternatives. Whether you wish to add protein, fibre, or vitamins, or reduce fat or calories, here are some easy food swaps to try out.
Basic Foods Swaps
- Yogurt: instead of regular yogurt, try Greek or Skyr, which both have more protein
- Fruity yogurt: opt for plain yogurt, and then add your own fruit rather than buying fruity yogurts which are often higher in sugar
- Spaghetti: whole wheat rather than white, to increase your fibre intake
- Hamburgers: swap out ground beef for ground turkey, which is lower in fat
- Tuna: when buying canned tuna, be sure that it is in water and not in oil; this will reduce the fat content
- Cold cuts: opt for turkey or chicken over salami or other processed deli meats; both are lower in sodium and fat
- Tortillas: choose whole wheat over white
- Chocolate: the next time you have a sweet tooth, try dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate
- Cooking oil: rather than pouring oil into a cooking pan, invest in some spray oil, which will help you control and lower the amount that you use; choose olive oil or canola oil, as your primary oils.
- Mayonnaise: hummus gives the same creamy mouthfeel as mayonnaise on a sandwich, while packed with protein and fibre.
In addition to healthy food swaps, here are some interesting meat/protein alternatives for any vegetarians, and dairy and egg alternatives for anyone following a vegan or dairy-free diet, or anyone just looking to try something new.
Vegetarian Food Swaps
- Milk: there are so many milk alternatives that exist today, a few of which include almond, cashew, soy, oat, coconut and rice milk- check to make sure your beverage is fortified with calcium and Vitamin D. Choose those with minimal added sugar
- Pulled pork: the jackfruit is an Asian fruit with a similar texture to pulled pork. Give it a try with this BBQ jackfruit sandwich
- Chicken salad: chicken salad can be mimicked with chickpeas, which also pack protein. Try this chickpea salad sandwich
- Hamburgers: there are a number of vegetarian/vegan swaps for this, with options such as soy-based, black bean-based and even quinoa based
- Eggs in baking: for egg free baked goods, try using applesauce, bananas or ground flaxseeds (soaked in water) as a substitute
- Scrambled eggs: tofu can be crumbled and panfried the same way eggs can, and gives a similar texture
Share your favourite food swaps, in the comments.