The one-week healthy swaps challenge

There are so many diets out there. Some tell you to give up carbs. Others, fats. And some even want you to cut out solid foods. Although such plans may seem like the perfect quick fix, they do little to help your well-being in the long run. You are far more likely to feel exhausted and discouraged than you are to experience any real long-term changes. Instead of crash dieting, spend a week trying out these healthy swaps and changes. What have you got to lose?

Woman eating fruit salad

The commitment

Many diets tell you to “cut this,” “add that,” “remove these” and “substitute those,” and trying to stick to a hundred and one rules month after month can be exhausting. Here, we present you with five healthy swaps for you to stick with for just one week. After the week, ask yourself what worked. Did you barely notice performing one of the swaps but found the health effects to be tremendous? Maybe that one can be incorporated into your everyday routine. If something didn’t seem doable on a regular basis after trying it for a week, that’s OK, too. This week is about experimenting with healthy swaps and finding those that can fit into your life on a regular basis.

Swap in dark chocolate

A healthy lifestyle isn’t about deprivation; it’s about learning to love a new way of living. If you have a sweet tooth and you take out desserts from your diet entirely, there is a good chance that when someone puts a slice of cake in front of you, your body will have been deprived of sugar for so long that you’ll down that cake and then go back for seconds, thirds and fourths. Instead of eliminating desserts altogether, try replacing your nighttime treat with a piece of dark chocolate. Cocoa beans are rich in antioxidants, and dark chocolate contains less sugar. Plus, the slight bitter taste in dark chocolate will often allow you to feel satisfied after one piece and not feel the need to go back for more.

Start your day with fruit

Mornings are often busy, which can make it difficult to eat well — if at all. Not eating breakfast or pulling up to a drive-through for a sausage sandwich on your way to work can really have negative effects on your body. To ensure you get your day started right, keep a variety of fruits in the fridge. If you have some time before you head out the door, make yourself a nice bowl of berries. Or if you’re in a bit of a rush, grab an apple or a pear to take with you. Consuming a little bit of fruit to get your body revving again is just what is needed to tide you over until you get your full breakfast in you.

Get in some exercise

We all know that daily exercise is part of a healthy liefestyle. But some days, making it to the gym just isn’t possible. Instead of having an all-or-nothing approach — where you have exercised only if you’ve sweat it out at the gym — look for ways that exercise can fit into your life. Aim to get a total of 30 minutes a day. Whether that time comes from walking up the stairs to work, parking far away at the grocery store or running to catch the bus, find ways to fit exercise into your life rather than the other way around.

Go whole wheat

By no means are carbs off limits this week, but making healthy swaps when it comes to carb-heavy foods is important. Take the week to try cooking with whole-wheat flour, substituting whole wheat rice and pasta into your meals and eating sandwiches or wraps on multi-grain bread or whole-wheat pitas.

Eat your vegetables

For lunch and dinner, give yourself one goal: Try to include two to three vegetables in each of these meals. This can be as simple as peppers and onions on a homemade pizza or a wrap loaded up with cucumbers and tomatoes. Try experimenting with new veggies, and you are sure to come across some that blow you away.

more on healthy living

Ginger is great for your health
7 Green foods to eat every week
Chocolate and its health benefits

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