Several years and about 60 pounds ago, my diet was basically a flaming dumpster fire.
I would starve myself all day long only to find myself three slices deep into a large pizza at dinner time. I was stuffing myself full of calorie-dense junk food simply because I was starving and craving it.
When I finally made the commitment to putting my health first once and for all, I knew that giving up my favorite foods just wasn’t a sustainable long term solution. Which is where the power of easy, healthy food swaps comes into play.
I’ve learned how to still live my life while cutting the crap and feeling my best — and I’m sharing a few of the life-changing swaps that have helped me on my own journey!
1. Greek yogurt with berries instead of pre-packaged yogurts
I used to be obsessed with the lure of “low calorie” and “low fat” labels, which naturally meant that I turned to sugary, pre-packaged yogurts that were packed full of sugar and additives. But now? You can always find my fridge stocked with a tub of plain greek yogurt and frozen berries. Add a drizzle of pure maple syrup on top and you’re in business.
2. Veggies instead of chips
Sodium-filled, greasy chips were a staple of my childhood and followed me well into adulthood. While I’ll occasionally indulge in tortilla chips (hello, chips and guac?!), most of the time I’m munching on raw carrots. Because sometimes, that crunch is all you need to satisfy those cravings!
3. Fresh fruits instead of fruit juice
OJ used to be my jam, y’all. Whether it was sipping it in the morning or for a late-night snack, I loved it — and the worst part? I thought I was drinking something healthy for me. Vitamin C, right? WRONG. Orange juice, along with other fruit juices, is incredibly high in sugar and the pulp and fiber have been removed. Moral of the story? Pass on the OJ and grab an orange instead.
4. Protein bars instead of candy bars
I’ve gotta be honest with you — ya girl has a weakness, and it’s sweets!. Give me all the chocolate and peanut butter, and I’m a happy camper. Needless to say that a few years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for me to grab a pack of Reese’s from the checkout lane. Obviously, those empty calories had to go, but I also wanted a way to indulge a bit when my sweet tooth was acting up.
Enter, protein bars. In particular, my favorites are Beachbars and Perfect Bars — both filled with yummy real ingredients, protein, and less sugar than your fave candy bar. And trust me, these get the job done when it comes to the sweet cravings.
5. Gin and soda instead of fruity cocktails
When I first started on my health journey, I thought I had to give up happy hour permanently. After all, I knew that those fruity cocktails and glasses of wine weren’t exactly helping my cause. But instead of giving it up altogether, I switched my go-to cocktail to a simple gin and soda water with a lime. Way fewer calories and carbs, which means that as long as I’m accounting for that drink with dinner, I can still get results.
6. Homemade pizza instead of delivery
As a red-blooded millennial, pizza has basically been a major food group when it comes to my diet. And honestly, giving up Friday night pizza dates at home with the hubs was a non-negotiable. But instead of picking up the phone to dial Dominoes, we started getting crafty in the kitchen and making our own!
We use sprouted whole grain crust (we usually find these at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods), pesto, mozzarella, tons of veggies, and diced chicken — and honestly, I don’t miss delivery pizzas a single bit!
7. Superfood shake for breakfast instead of skipping it
I’m straight-up terrible at breakfast. Skipping it was a habit I developed in high school and have carried with me into adulthood. The thought of downing a big, hearty meal first thing in the morning is enough to make my stomach churn. But I knew that if I wanted to fuel my body well and develop healthy habits, I needed to start adding breakfast back in.
My solution? The best damn superfood shake on the market. Delicious, filling, and easy to down in the mornings, it’s different from any other protein or meal replacement shake; it’s filled with all of the micro-nutrients my body needs to thrive and with balanced macros to keep me full and fueled up.
8. Sprouted grain bread instead of white bread
If you’re like me, you probably grew up on grilled cheese and PB&J sandwiches made with wonder bread. It’s soft, comforting, and oh so nostalgic. The thought of giving it up was rough until I actually tried sprouted grain bread. In particular, the favorite we stock up on in our house is Sprouted Grain Ezekiel bread, which more and more stores are beginning to carry. My daily morning ritual includes a slice of it slathered with some organic peanut butter, and y’all — it’s dang delicious.
9. Cold brew with a splash of milk instead of a sugary latte
If you’ve been around for a while, you probably know that I used to sling lattes as a barista at my neighborhood Starbucks for a few years. And tbh, I saw a lot of scary things. A lot. Like someone asking for the bottom quarter of their cup to be filled with caramel drizzle, and another person that came in daily for their 10 pump mocha frappuccino. Like I said, scary.
I had a keen sense of just how sugar-loaded the vast majority of coffee drinks are, which helped when I decided to make the switch to plain old coffee. In particular, my go-to is a cold brew with the tiniest splash of milk. And honestly, it feels great to know that that boost of energy I get daily is coming from my coffee instead of the sugar rush that’s inevitable when you’re downing a caramel macchiato.