Are you ready to make healthier food choices but aren’t sure where to start?

Perhaps you’re overwhelmed with all of the information and opinions out there.

Well, today is your lucky day because I have compiled an easy-peasy list of 11 healthy food swaps that you can incorporate into your diet right now!

Unfortunately, a lot of foods that are advertised to us as “healthy” are in fact loaded with questionable preservatives and sugar. Being aware of what you are putting in your body is key to improving your health.

  1. White Sugar


The culprit that is wreaking havoc on our bodies and hiding in our foods needs to go. White sugar is heavily processed and should be avoided whenever possible. Not only does it cause huge spikes in blood sugar levels, but its overconsumption can lead to obesity and heart disease.

Try instead:

Organic honey, coconut or palm sugar, and real maple syrup (watch out for the fake varieties that are nothing more than sugar syrup and coloring). These sweaters are not only less processed but also are less harmful on your blood sugar levels when you ingest them.

2. Ice Cream


Not only is it loaded with unhealthy fats, most ice creams contain rancid oils such as soybean as well as titanium dioxide and artificial flavorings or colorings.

Try instead:

Blended berries or fruits with a splash of coconut milk to create a smoothie bowl. You can freeze it to harden and enjoy with fresh nuts or coconut on top. This version is excellent with granola for breakfast. 

3. Margarine


Where to start with this toxic product? Margarine is made from plant oils that have been pumped full of hydrogen in an attempt to make them solid at room temperature and more “spreadable”. This process damages the delicate structures of healthy plant oils and causes unnatural molecules to form, a.k.a trans-fats. These oils have been linked to high cholesterol, heart disease, and the creation of free radicals in the body.

Try instead:

Organic butter, cold-pressed olive oil, or ghee for more natural and unprocessed alternatives.

4. Canola & Vegetable Oils


Unfortunately, most popular plant oils can be just as bad for your health as hydrogenated margarine. Not only are canola, soy, safflower, corn, and sunflower oil some of the most GMO produced crops in North America, they also contain an unhealthy amount of Omega 6 fatty acids. This is a type of fat that if eaten in excess can contribute to heart disease and inflammation among other issues. As a rule of thumb, vegetable oils that are good for your health are delicate in nature and thus sold in dark bottles, cold pressed, and organic.

Try instead:

Organic cold pressed olive oil, coconut oil, and other cold-pressed vegetable oils stored in dark bottles.

5. Soda, diet soda, juice, & sugary drinks


Don’t be fooled. Most pre-packaged drinks are loaded with not only sugar, but artificial colorings, flavors, and questionable chemicals. Some natural juices have more sugar than soda!

Try instead:

The obvious choice is water but, if you find the need to spice things up, then make your own drinks. Try brewing herbal tea and making your own iced tea, eating a whole fruit instead of drinking juice, or carbonated water with fruit, cucumber, lemon, or berries (my personal favorite).

6. Microwave Popcorn


Perfluorooctanoic acid, trans-fats, artificial coloring, diacetyl, citric acid, and something called THBQ are just some of the ingredients included along with your corn. Sounds delicious right? Taking into account that 95% of all corn grown in North America has been genetically modified, I’m starting to lose my appetite.

Try instead:

Buy Organic popping corn and invest in an air popper or learn to make it over the stove with a dash of olive oil. Top your popcorn with olive oil or unsalted butter and add nutritional yeast or sea salt for a dash of flavor.

7. Artificial Sweetners


Sucralose (Splenda), aspartame (Equal), saccharin (Sweet’N Low), Neotame, Cyclamate, and Tagatose (Nutralose) are just a few of the artificial sweeteners out there.  Sold to us as “healthy calorie-free” alternatives to natural sugar, these sweeteners have all been linked to serious health issues such as cancer, seizures, allergic reactions, dizziness, and headaches. The sweeteners still available for use in foods have yet to be banned due to technicalities of research and the power of the companies backing them.

Try instead:

If you feel that you really need something sweet try choosing real sugars such as organic honey, coconut sugar, and maple syrup. Even better yet, learn to enjoy your drinks and treats without any added sugar at all.

8. Energy & Sports Drinks


Loaded with sugar, artificial flavorings, high fructose corn syrup, and chemically produced colors, these drinks should be avoided at all times. Gatorade, Powerade, and Vitamin water are great examples of how a drink is advertised as being healthy but at the same time contains just as much sugar as a soda along with other artificial chemicals. Don’t be fooled, these drinks are far from healthy.

Try instead:

For a great post-workout beverage try making your own chocolate almond milk (1 cup almond milk + 2 tsp organic cacao powder), smoothie with spinach, banana, cocoa and almond milk, or a handful of salted almonds. For a natural jolt of energy without all the additives of an energy drink try green tea, chai tea, kombucha, green smoothies, or matcha. You can also energize by taking a brisk walk outside, standing up and stretching, taking 10 deep breaths, or diffusing peppermint essential oils in your house.

9. Flavoured Coffee


Coffee has become a great controversy lately. Some say that it boosts metabolism and promotes a healthy heart, while other studies prove that it increases irritability, dehydration, overstimulation, and interferes with the absorption of vital nutrients. Without getting into a full on debate, the one thing that medicine and the health world can agree on is that flavored and specialty coffees should always be avoided. As beautiful and healthy as Starbucks makes you believe the Pumpkin Spiced Latte is, it actual contains artificial flavors and sweeteners to give it the taste you are craving.

Try instead:

Make your own flavored coffees. Adding vanilla, pumpkin spice, nutmeg, cinnamon, molasses, cocoa powder, peppermint, or real caramel can create a delicious treat! If you’re going to indulge in something sweet and not so healthy, might as well make it the real thing!

10. Store bought salad dressings & sauces


Speaking of sugar overloads; here is one of the top places that sugar is hiding in your diet. Not only are store bought salad dressings & sauces loaded with sugar, most of them also contain high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavorings and colorings, rancid GMO oils, salt, and milk byproducts. It becomes very easy to turn your healthy green salad into a candy bowl.

Try instead:

Easy homemade salad dressings such as lemon juice with salt & pepper, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, & mustard, or tahini, garlic, soy sauce, and olive oil. Blend your ingredients and store in the fridge for up to a week. Fresh and nutritious!

11. Store bought bread


When was the last time you took a look at the ingredient list when you bought bread? Were you as shocked as I was when the list resembled the credits at the end of a movie? Bread is made with 4 ingredients: flour, yeast, water, and salt. Bread manufacturers add about 20 other ingredients to the bread to create the right consistency, color, and increase the shelf life so that you can buy it and eat it for the next 3 weeks.

Try instead:

Bake your own or find a local bakery that bakes fresh bread daily. These options will guarantee that your bread is made with minimal preservatives. To keep bread fresh longer try pre-slicing it and storing it in the freezer. Each time you require a slice just pull what you need out and let it sit to defrost for 5 minutes.


Pretty simple right!?

These easy swaps can be made next time you go to the grocery store or run out of something in your house. Start paying attention to labels and thinking of more natural alternatives whenever you shop. One at a time you can change your pantry into a healthy haven.

Which healthy swap are you going to make this week?

Come on over and join the community on Facebook at Simply Balanced Health and share which healthy swap you are going to make this week. I can’t wait to hear which one you choose!

Love & Small Changes,