The Food Swap: A New Way to Diet

Have you been on a diet recently? Low salt, low fat, and low carb, even the Paleo diet—I bet some of you have tried them all.  Every day a new “diet” pops up. I watched a report over the weekend on the early news that talked about what is now considered good and healthy by U.S. Dietary Guidelines. As I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, whole milk and cereal were considered a good breakfast because you were getting protein and grains. Of course, we thought Captain Crunch was great! Not so much. Healthy, multi- grains and skim milk are much better.

As we age, our doctors warn us about family genetics: high cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes…you name it. And what we put in our mouths has directly affects how we feel. But seriously, who wants to diet? The approach of “swapping” one food for another may take the pressure of dieting off our backs a little. Here are a few little tips:

Lower your blood pressure by removing some of that salt. Eat walnuts, NOT roasted or salted mixed nuts.    Peanuts are the worst.    Eat peanut butter with some fresh blueberries instead of blueberry jelly. Eat salsa or guacamole, not queso dip.

Want to be in a better mood? Who doesn’t? Try this: be like Popeye and eat your spinach salad with cherry tomatoes. It has much more magnesium than kale. Eat that grass-fed beef rather than the farm-raised beef. Try herbal tea instead of soda. Cut down on the sugar intake as well. And, dark chocolate completely trumps processed chocolate.

If you have ever been told you are on the cusp of developing diabetes, take note. You heard it before and it is true: salmon, tuna and sardines are packed with rich omega-3s, which reduce your risk of diabetes. Cut down on white bread, rice and pasta, and try red grapes, blueberries and cranberries instead. Farmer’s markets are just starting to sprout, so this is the perfect time to start a new routine by picking up some fresh produce every week. Like green tea? Brew it yourself instead of buying the processed bottles of it. Use olive oil on that salad instead of soybean oil.

Experts have found that protein is more important than ever as we age. In fact, aging adults need more than growing teens to help replace bone loss and build muscle. It also supports good heart health and helps you recover from surgery faster. You have heard of quinoa, right?

This high protein super food has 8 grams of protein per cup. That is double what is in a cup of white rice, and it can be added to salads, mixed with hot veggies or oatmeal. I personally like protein shakes in the morning. There are all kinds on the shelf, and you can mix your own. Look for the amount of grams of protein in each serving. The higher the better. My latest favorite food pick is grilled fish tacos, and guess what? They are better for you than beef tacos because they boost your “good” cholesterol levels and don’t clog the arteries as much as red meat.

I tend to dine out a lot. Many restaurants have taken note that customers want healthy choices, so they make it easy for you to follow that path to a healthier lifestyle. The calories are easily listed next to the entrée, and/or the healthy or “light” meals are separated out. Take notice and choose wisely.

Well, after writing this, I must say I have a little appetite. Time to go and focus on what I need to swap out to feel better and eat healthier.

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