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9 Food Swaps WILL Save Your Life

Yesterday I posted something on Facebook that I saw a friend of mine post "No Matter How Slow You Go, You’re Still Lapping Everyone on the Couch."

We always say not to compare yourself to anyone else …

… you’re the only person you can compare yourself to.

But this saying brought on a different meaning.  To me, it basically says "simply get started." 

It doesn’t matter where you are, it matters where you are going.

And the same goes for your diet.

We can debate the "best" diet.  We can split hairs and talk about nutrient timing, the best sugar to eat (or not eat), the choosing the right carbs & fats, if dairy is good, etc.  The list can go on.

But when you’re trying to make change … or improvements … it’s the small baby steps that count.

Focusing on behaviors, not outcomes, will lead to permanent success.

That being said, here are 9 SIMPLE Ways to Clean Up Your Diet …

… not drastic overhauls, but rather simple switches and swaps, that when done consistently over time, will lead to positive outcomes.

  1. Swap out 1 current snack with a piece of your favorite fruit.  Nothing major, but surely powerful overtime.  Do you have that go to snack each day?  Maybe you’ve rationalized that as "I worked out hard, so ‘earned’ this today" or it’s your afternoon go to snack when you’re in a tired slump at the office.  You’ll have to plan ahead for this one, but throw an extra apple, orange, etc in your bag so you’re sure to add it to your diet.
  2. Swap 1 current side dish for a veggie.  Even if you already have a veggie side, add another.  Out to eat?  Ask to substitute the starch for the veggie of the day.  At home, rather than the normal rice, potato, quinoa, etc add a colorful veggie.  Again, small, but powerful.
  3. Swap your high carb breakfast with eggs.  If a bowl of cereal, bagel, muffin, scone, or Pop Tart normally shows its ugly head in the AM, swap it out for eggs.  The protein in the eggs will help fill you up and it’s been shown that when you choose eggs vs. a bagel for breakfast, you’ll lose (or maintain) weight more easily.  And when we look at the research, people are eating just 10% of their protein in the AM and eating most of it at night.  The best approach would be to spread it out evenly throughout the day, though, for the best results.  If you think you don’t have time to make eggs in the AM, make hardboiled eggs the night before, peel them and eat them in the morning with a piece of fruit. 
  4. Swap Chips/Pretzels with Nuts.  Just the other day someone said "I can’t eat nuts, they have too many calories."  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  Nuts — pistachios, walnuts, almonds, etc — are amazing for you.  Eating 1-2 handfuls of nuts each day (1-2 oz) will not only help with weight loss, but will improve your health dramatically.  And not only that, but the protein and fat in nuts will help fill you more than the fiberless carbs in the pretzels or chips you’re eating. 
  5. Swap Fiberless Carbs for Lean Protein.  We certainly don’t believe you should avoid carbs.  But we do think you should avoid the fiberless, overly processed ones … and when you swap out these with a healthy protein, it will help fill you up and give your working muscles what they need to repair and recover.  Start with #3 above — swapping high carb breakfast with eggs — and then continue on from there.
  6. Swap 1 Meal Each Day with a Huge Salad.  Don’t think that we’re asking you to only eat like a bird and pick at a small side salad; when we say "HUGE" we mean it like I show you in this video.  This salad should be loaded with colorful veggies, lean protein, a handful of nuts and maybe some beans.  Making this one swap can cover most of the others on this list!  Pretty simple, right?  The key here, though, is to watch all that you put on the salad — everything listed above?  Perfect.  Creamy dressing, cheese, bacon bits, croutons, low mein noodles, etc.  Not so much.  That’s making a good thing bad.
  7. Swap Solid Fats with Olive or Canola Oil.  Solid fats are typically saturated fats.  And while not all solid fats are created equally (big difference between coconut oil and shortening, for example), as a general rule of thumb substituting an oil like olive or canola for solid fats is a smart move for most Americans who over eat saturated and trans fats.  Notice I didn’t say ADD these oils — it’s swap out these oils — big difference.  Just because olive oil is healthy, doesn’t mean it should be added to every food on the planet.  That’s another message of a good message gone bad.
  8. Swap Red Meat, Chicken and Turkey with Fish.  Red meat, chicken and turkey can be great for you … but the right types of fish are even better.  We are not eating close to enough omega-3 fats.  You get those in fish like wild salmon, wild tuna, barramundi, sardines, anchovies and many others.  We need a LOT more omega-3’s and a lot less other fats.  THIS is the most powerful out of all 9 in our opinion considering 96,000 deaths per year are attributed to omega-3 deficiency.  So change up your protein sources to add more fish weekly.
  9. Swap Calorie Containing Liquids for Calorie Free Options.  We drink enough liquid calories to gain nearly 1 lb PER WEEK!  Seriously.  But we’re also not fans of diet drinks that are loaded with artificial sweeteners.  Best option?  Water.  If you find that boring, try seltzer with a squeeze of your favorite fruit.  Even water with sliced fruit or veggies gives it a nice flavor that will make you think you’re in a beautiful spa.  This could easily have the biggest impact on your weight out of all 9 swaps. 

What do you think?  9 Simple Swaps that can change your life.

You’ll feel better.  Have more energy.  Weigh less.  Be leaner.  Be stronger.  And think more clearly among other things.  So, yes, these 9 food swaps WILL literally change (and save) your life.

Here’s the key.  We’re not suggesting today you drop everything and try to implement all 9 of these.  Again, think about the quote at the beginning of today’s blog – "No matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch."

One step at a time, focusing on the behaviors rather than the outcomes, will get you to where you want to be.


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8 Responses to 9 Food Swaps WILL Save Your Life

  1. Tami August 19, 2011 at 6:21 am #

    I’m very surprised by your #7. Every nutrition e-mail I get these days warns AGAINST using Canola oil.

  2. Matthew August 19, 2011 at 7:37 am #

    Are these general guidelines for those trying to lose weight or the general population?

    Also why swap out rice at a meal for another veggie? Is it replacing one carb with another that potentially has more benefits?

    Any concerns regarding Mercury and adding in the fish?

    • Chris and Kara Mohr August 19, 2011 at 8:25 am #

      All of the above — weight loss, general health, weight gain — just the portions will differ.

      While veggies and rice are both carbs, there’s a big difference in the 40ish grams of carbs in a 1/2 cup of rice vs. the 5 or so grams in veggies…even taking the focus off carbs, the nutrient profile is much better with the veggies.

      As for mercury and fish — the omega-3’s outweigh the mercury in our opinion. BUT and a big but, picking lower mercury fish that offer a lot of omega 3’s (like the ones we listed) is still smart, particularly for women in childbearing years and/or pregnant, kids, and elderly.

      • Matthew August 24, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

        Interesting and makes sense.

        Though the veggies vs. rice validity could add fuel to the ‘carb is just a carb’ debate. 🙂

  3. Tj August 19, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    I have a 10 yr old child with aspergers (unmedicated) and food anxieties with both texture and taste. Fish is one of the biggest battle grounds. Five kids and he’s the only one who simply won’t eat it! Short of forcing supplements down his throat while we sit on him to hold him down ……any suggestions?

    • Chris and Kara Mohr August 19, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

      Unfortunately that’s far from our area of expertise. I’d suggest preparing it in different ways to try but, again, far from our area. Supplements are smart if he’s OK with them.

  4. Beth August 20, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    WOW! Those are so good! I have implemented almost all of them into my life over the past 6 months and have seen a DRASTIC difference in my health (and weight!). The hardest one for me is #8, although I’m doing better than I have in the past.

    I especially like your quote at the end! How funny… but how true!!

    Thanks for all your great information and motivation!

  5. Marnie August 21, 2011 at 5:43 am #

    Great swap ideas! Here’s one more. Swap emotional eating for mindful eating with positive thoughts and thankful awareness. Adjusting your attitude towards food and how you interact with it can relieve the stress of trying to “stay on a diet.” With food is approached with gratitude, eating can even become a form of active meditation or prayer. And exploring your senses of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste, while shopping for, preparing, and eating food can help keep you in the moment and discourage emotional eating.

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