How to eat healthier by making 5 easy food substitutions

By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi
Originally published at

If you want to know how to eat healthier, the first thing you should understand is that you don’t have to undertake huge overhauls in your lifestyle. Making small changes over time can make a big difference to your health in the long run. Here are 5 easy food substitutions you can implement today to cut calories and boost your nutritional intake.

Food substitution 1: Instead of jelly, try 100% fruit spread

Next time you’re in the supermarket, have a look at the ingredients list on that jar of jelly. Sure, the first ingredient is grapes. But chances are, the next two ingredients will be corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup — man-made sweeteners that have been linked to increased rates of obesity.

If you find yourself craving a PBJ but want to eat healthier, nix the jelly and use 100% all-fruit spread instead. It tastes just as good as the fake stuff, but it has half the sugar and two-thirds of the calories!

Our personal favorite is Sorrel Ridge’s 100% Fruit Wild Blueberry spread. But if they don’t sell that one at your local store, other brands to look for include Cascadian Farms, Crofter’s, and Polaner.

Food substitution 2: Instead of fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, try Greek yogurt mixed with fruit spread

Low-fat yogurt is an excellent choice when it comes to smart snacking. You’ve probably already heard that it’s packed with protein and calcium, but did you know that yogurt can also help you lose weight and fend off a cold?

That said, the big-brand fruit-on-the-bottom stuff is loaded with added sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, so do yourself a favor and swap it out for plain Greek yogurt if you want to eat healthier.

What’s so great about Greek yogurt? You won’t find any additives on the ingredient list. And once you try its naturally thick, creamy texture, you’ll never want to go back to the runniness of regular yogurt. Also, because Greek yogurt has up to 3 times as much protein as regular yogurt, it’ll leave you feeling full for much longer.

Our favorite brand is Fage Total Authentic Greek Yogurt – 2% Fat, but you can also try Chobani and Oikos. It’s unsweetened, so to add some flavor, just stir in a teaspoon of 100% fruit spread.

Food substitution 3: Instead of orange juice, try acai berry pulp juice

One of the best things you can do for your body is to feed it more antioxidants. What are antioxidants? They are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that protect the body from free-radical damage. Antioxidants can boost your immune system so that you’re less likely to catch colds or the flu.

You may have heard that blueberries and red grapes are good sources for antioxidants. But an even better source is the acai berry – a fruit that can be found in the rainforests of Brazil. The acai berry has 2 times more antioxidants than blueberries, and 10 times more antioxidants than red grapes! It packs a powerful nutritional punch in one tiny package.

If you’re in the habit of drinking a glass of orange juice with your breakfast each morning but want to eat healthier, switch the OJ out for a glass of acai berry juice instead. The brand Sambazon makes various juices that are acai-based, but the healthiest one by far is the pure acai berry pulp they sell in their frozen acai smoothie packs. You can either defrost it by running it under hot water, or if you plan ahead, put a frozen pack in the fridge each morning so that it will be ready to drink by the following morning.

Food substitution 4: Instead of regular potatoes, try sweet potatoes

Instead of regular potatoes, try sweet potatoesIf you’re wondering how to eat healthier when it comes to choosing side dishes, this tip is for you! Next time you’re in the mood for a baked potato, try a roasted sweet potato instead.

Eating regular potatoes gives you a quick spike in your blood sugar level, followed by a dramatic drop. That kind of fluctuation makes your brain tell you to feel hungry. Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, have a much lower glycemic load. They digest slowly, causing a gradual rise in blood sugar, which makes you feel full longer.

Another reason to try sweet potatoes? They’re loaded with fiber and nutrients. In fact, if you eat sweet potato with the skin, it has even more fiber than oatmeal! Sweet potatoes have almost twice the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, four times the recommendation for beta carotene, and 42 percent of the recommendation for vitamin C. It really is a nutritional powerhouse.

Food substitution 5: Instead of your usual tea, try green tea

Instead of your usual tea, try green teaIf you want to learn how to eat healthier, making smarter beverage choices is part of the equation. Let’s start with swapping out your morning cup of tea for a cup of green tea.

Most types of tea contain antioxidants. But the level of antioxidants in green tea (called catechins) is far more concentrated because of the way it’s made. Green tea is withered and steamed, but not fermented the way black and oolong teas are.

Numerous scientific studies have shown a link between drinking green tea and a reduced risk for several different types of cancer. Green tea could also reduce your risk for heart disease, as its catechins increase good cholesterol, decrease bad cholesterol, and improve the way your arteries function.

Do yourself a favor and drink freshly brewed green tea. Sure, it’s more convenient to buy the ready-made stuff in a bottle, but the processing involved in creating the bottled tea means it contains lower levels of catechins. Ideally, you want to use loose tea, but teabags will work too.

Our favorite kind of green tea is genmaicha — a mix of green tea leaves, popped rice, and popcorn. (Sounds weird, but trust us, it tastes delicious!) If you’re looking for a milder flavor, try sencha. Let the tea steep for three to five minutes to maximize the water’s absorption of catechins, and enjoy!

What other food substitutions do you use to eat healthier?

This list of food substitutes is just the tip of the iceberg, of course. If someone were to ask you how to eat healthier, would there be any other food substitutes you would recommend to them? What changes have you made in your life that have allowed you to eat healthier? We’d love to hear about them!