If you’re already having trouble sticking to that “eat healthier” New Year’s Resolution, perhaps it’s because you have lots of tempting things in your pantry that are foiling your best intentions. Because you know what they say about good intentions and white bread: they pave the road to a heart attack. Below are some simple substitutions you can make RIGHT NOW to affect a big change in your health.
Replace white bread with whole wheat bread—good whole wheat bread
Whole wheat bread is generally less processed, has more fiber, will keep you fuller longer, and won’t spike your blood sugar like white bread. As far as your body is concerned, white bread is just sugar, and eating straight sugar doesn’t fall under “eat healthier.” Ideally, buy freshly baked bread from a deli, bakery, or farmers’ market; although highly-processed, pre-sliced whole wheat bread is a bit better than its white alternative, it’s still highly-processed and pre-sliced. Insider tip: Look at the ingredient list. If it lists “wheat flour,” it means white wheat flour. If it lists ingredients you don’t recognize, they’re probably preservatives or other sketchy things you don’t want in your body, and you’d be better off buying a different loaf.
Replace canned vegetables with fresh or frozen vegetables
Unlike canned vegetables, frozen vegetables retain most of their nutrients and fiber—and they’re just as convenient, if that’s a factor in your decision. When possible, eat fresh vegetables. This tip also goes for fruit. Canned fruits often come swimming in a sugary syrup, and have almost none of the beneficial nutrients of fresh or even frozen fruit.
Insider tip: Want to go the extra mile? Freeze your own veggies, from your garden or from a farmers’ market, to enjoy healthy produce throughout the year.
Replace meat—especially red meat—with a vegetarian protein
Hold up! We’re not suggesting that you go full-on vegetarian, but at least once a week, go meatless. If possible, eat vegetarian proteins that are natural and not processed. For example, serve vegetarian Mexican food, with beans instead of meat. Or whip up an omelet, and let eggs provide the protein. You can always buy a tofu-based “fake meat,” but it’s cheaper and healthier to pick natural foods. Insider tip: You can also improve health just by reducing the amount of meat in a meal. For red meat, a serving size should be no bigger than a pack of cards. Sound pitifully small? Mix the meat with other ingredients, for example in a stirfry, and its flavor will spread out over lower-calorie, more fibrous foods.
There is endless conflicting advice about which foods are “healthy.” A simple guideline is to buy whole, unprocessed foods, and to focus on fruits and vegetables. And, of course, avoid sugar. For a quick primer on simple strategies for making healthy choices, check out author Michael Pollan’s Food Rules.