• Felicia Newell, RD, MSc

4 Healthy Swaps for Those 'Less Healthy' Foods We Tend to Overeat


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Living a healthy lifestyle is not always easy. If it were a piece of cake, we wouldn’t have massive amounts of people stressing out about that piece of cake that they should or shouldn’t eat.


One reason why switching to a healthy lifestyle is difficult, is that we’re bombarded in society with delicious, not-so-healthy high calorie foods with little to no nutritious value. These foods taste great and are typically more convenient. With how hectic life can be these days, who doesn’t need a bit of both? It’s when we consume too many of these high calorie/low nutrient convenience foods, that our health can get into trouble.


When you learn how to develop a healthy relationship with food, you start to move away from the “all or nothing” mentality – aka swinging from “eat all the junk food, all of the time” to “everything is bad for me, I must avoid everything!” – to a more balanced approach to eating, more like, “I’m going to fuel my body with nutritious foods 80% of the time, and then leave 20% room for living and enjoying life”.


Think of healthy eating as a continuum. Instead of having to go from a poor diet to a “perfect” diet, try to make slow, sustainable changes. One example – make healthy swaps for your “junk” food favs so that you don’t feel like you’re missing out as much, which makes for a more sustainable lifestyle change.


Here are four popular foods that we tend to love and overeat, and what you can use as healthy alternatives to satisfy your cravings most of the time. Don't get me wrong - there's nothing wrong with having the real thing in moderation, but if it's something you like to have a lot of, having a healthier choice at least most of the time can help.


For more tips on fighting sugar cravings check out the download below:

Tips for Fighting Sugar Cravings
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Download PDF • 69KB


Craving Swap #1 – Ice Cream

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This all-time favourite sugar-laced delicacy can make it difficult to consume a small portion at one sitting. For most people, it’s nothing to sit down and dummy a half or a whole tub all in one sitting. Especially when one has had a rough day.

Try swiping this high sugar, no nutrient delicacy with something with no added sugar and all the deliciousness – “Nice Cream”. Nice cream is a very easy to make treat, with only a few ingredients. It is basically: 1) frozen bananas + 2) whatever other healthy ingredients your heart desires.


Basics of a nice cream recipe:

  1. Let the bananas ripen before peeling. If they’re green or yellow to start with, leave them out until the bananas at least begin to turn brown.

  2. Once ripe, peel the bananas, cut into pieces, and freeze them.

  3. When the bananas are fully frozen, toss them into a food processor or high-quality blender and blend until you achieve a consistency that resembles soft serve. If your blender is having trouble processing, you can add up to 1/4 cup milk of choice or another liquid.

Examples of nice cream recipes:

  1. Chocolate Banana Ice Cream: Use 3 bananas. Add 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract, pinch salt, and 3 tbsp cocoa powder.

  2. Mint Chocolate Chip: Use 2 bananas and a pinch of salt. Add 1/8 tsp pure peppermint extract (or more if desired) and stir in dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs after blending. Optional, blend in a pinch of spirulina or a small handful spinach for color and an extra nutrient boost.

  3. Peanut Butter: Make the original recipe above, adding 2-3 tbsp peanut butter or another nut butter before blending.


Craving Swap #2 – French Fries


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Most people are either a sweet or a savoury person, and for me, French fries are my weakness (Really I love all things potatoes).


If you hit up the freezer section for a bag of fries, every 3-ounce portion (about 12 pieces) contains 120 calories, 5 grams of fat and 300 milligrams of sodium — but who eats only 12? Fast-food fries can get you into even more trouble, with a medium-sized order averaging 400 calories and 17 grams of fat.


Sodium levels can range from 300 to more than 1,200 milligrams, depending on how those fries are seasoned.


Verdict: Homemade and baked is always the way to go


Here are some healthy alternatives to deep fried or packaged French fries:

  1. Regular ol’ homemade potato fries – Potatoes have a bad reputation, but they’re actually filled with good-for-you nutrients, including fibre and potassium. The calorie count is also relatively low, coming in at about 170-210 calories for a whole small to medium potato. Armed with this knowledge, you can easily see how a sliced and roasted spud with a drizzle of olive oil can be a healthy side dish. For best results/crispier fries, oil the bottom of the pan and rotate every 5-10 mins.

  2. ‘Actifry’ – If you want the crispy, deep fried texture without all the fat and oil, use an ‘Actifry’ fryer, which uses much less oil than your typical deep fry methods.

  3. Zucchini fries – slice, lightly oil, and roast until golden brown.


Craving Swap #3 – Milk Chocolate

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Chocolate, no matter the type, is still a source of calories and because it tastes oh-so-good to so many of us, it’s easy to overdo it.


Better alternatives are:


1. Dark Chocolate – Although milk chocolate may taste great, it’s not nearly as good for you as dark chocolate is.