// By: Emily Fitzgerald, MScFN,RD & Mistralle Brouillard, RD

It’s that time of the year again! With the New Year often comes a desire for a fresh start or just change in general, and so you’re probably starting to hear conversations about New Year’s resolution plans amongst your family, friends and co-workers. Common themes seem to arise year after year, and we all know that nutrition is often at the top of that list!

 

If healthy eating is a part of your resolution this year, take some time to reflect on what is important to you and start prioritizing your personal nutrition goals. Keep your goals simple and realistic. For example, a client I recently saw explained that she is going to try new foods and find healthier alternatives to her favourite recipes this year, which inspired me to write this blog post. So, let’s join her in spicing things up this new year!

 

Swapping for the Better

It’s no secret that there are many foods that resemble one another, however, not all of these foods are created equal. Check out these simple food substitutions that pack a nutritional punch!

  • Try replacing pasta with spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles or cooked bean sprouts. Your taste buds will hardly notice the simple switch in your dish, but your body will sure reap the benefits, like increased fibre, which can help control your blood sugar levels, lower your cholesterol levels and keep you regular. And don’t forget about the numerous amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found in these delicious vegetables!
  • Try a spread other than mayo on your next sandwich. Some options include mashed avocado, hummus or homemade tzatziki. These simple substitutions will add extra flavour without the guilt. Mashed avocado will provide essential healthy fats and fibre to your meal, while hummus and tzatziki offer protein and fibre, which help you feel full longer.
    • Fun Fact: avocados are the fruit that offer the most fibre per serving.
  • Vegetables continue to be great impersonators – try grated cauliflower as a replacement for white rice. You can avoid simple sugars found in white rice with this easy switch. Simply cook your cauliflower al dente and use a grater to chop it down to a rice-like consistency. Use this as a bed to your stir-fry, or as a simple side dish with your meal.

 

Sweeten it up where it counts

Do you struggle with your sweet tooth? What if I told you that you can take advantage of this? There are many ways to satisfy your sweet cravings, while keeping your added sugar intake under control.

  • Yogurt is a fan-favourite for breakfast and though so many interesting flavours are offered these days at the grocery store, they can be packed with enough sugar to be considered a dessert! Try choosing a plain yogurt instead of the flavoured stuff so that you can control the sugar content. Try adding fresh or frozen fruit, a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup or sprinkle on some homemade granola to add sweetness in a more natural way. These natural sweeteners combined with the protein offered by something like Greek yogurt and the nuts and seeds found in granola will ensure you don’t crash in an hour from a sugar rush. Instead, it’ll give you a great (and tasty!) kick-start to your day.
  • I frequently hear from clients that they are bored of drinking water and have turned to pop or fruit drinks as an alternative. The problem that arises here is that these beverages offer large amounts of sugar and empty calories. Here are some options to get you back on the water train! Add some frozen fruit to your water bottle. It keeps your drink cool while adding some natural flavour, which only intensifies as the fruit thaws. Choose your favourite fruit or herb to add to your next glass of water or water pitcher. Some of my personal favourites are grapefruit slices or cucumber and mint! Make it your own and add any natural flavourings of choice.
  • Try different sugar sources in your cooking and baking. Did you know that foods like applesauce and mashed bananas are easy replacements for refined sugar in most recipes? This works especially well for baking and both are great options for adding extra fibre, vitamins and minerals that would be missing if a refined sugar was used.

 

Try something new

It’s always rewarding to simply try something new! You never know what you might like if you never try it and it’s great to add new foods to your grocery list to keep things interesting!

  • You know that section of the produce department you walk right by because you don’t recognize the foods? Next time, make it a stop while doing your groceries. Once a month, or even once a week, choose a new fruit or vegetable you’ve never tried before! A quick google search will provide you with more information about the item, and the best ways to prepare and enjoy it. Dragon fruit has become one of my personal favourites recently!
  • As a family, choose a new recipe to make each week or month. Include the kids in the brainstorming and ask for help with writing out the grocery list. Research has shown that Canadians who write out their grocery list are more likely to consume more vegetables and fruits per day compared to those who do not1.

 

Are you thinking about making nutrition changes this year? Check out our 1:1 Nutrition Coaching Program and upcoming Nutrition Workshops!

 

References

  1. https://www.dietitians.ca/Downloads/Public/FoodSkills_FactSheet_ENG-FINAL.aspx