It has been 7 years now since I have been using nutrition as a method of healing. For those of you who don't know my history, when I was a teenager I developed horrendous digestive issues, from frequent diarrhoea, bloating, gas, intense stomach pain and chronic fatigue. When doctors told me I simply had "IBS", or an "irritable" bowel, I knew this couldn't be the answer. I wanted to know WHY. What was I doing or eating that was irritating my bowel? I began my own research and found a strong link between gluten and digestive issues. Despite my love for traditional whole wheat bread and cereal, I knew this was something I had to try. Literally within 2 weeks after eliminating gluten, I felt like a completely different person. I hadn't known what it felt like to not be gassy or in pain for almost 4 years. This was the only motivation I needed to continue with eliminating gluten from my diet.
Fast forward 2 years when I graduated with my Bachelor's Degree in Kinesiology, my love for nutrition continued to grow and I definitely knew I wanted to learn more about the healing properties of food. It is safe to say that my studies at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition were life-changing. I learned everything from Ayurvedic food principles to herbal medicine, to the psychology behind the disease, and various diet types for various populations. A common trend was that so many of us eating the Standard American Diet are overfed and undernourished. Yes, it is totally possible to be obese and malnourished. People are choosing empty calories over nutrient dense ones and put themselves on a blood sugar rollercoaster with frequent cravings, low energy and heightened risks of disease.
One of the best things I think we can do for our health is simply swapping poor food choices for healthier alternatives. Removing foods with empty calories, inflammatory promoting foods, and foods that worsen digestive health, and replacing them for nutrient-dense foods that are easy to digest, are health protective, and balance our blood sugar to promote a healthy body composition and a healthy mind.
I wanted to share some of my favourite healthy food swaps with you guys. My hope is that you can increase the nutrient density of each meal for improved weight management, better digestive health, improved hormonal balance, and overall improved vitality.
Here are my favourite swaps:
1) DON'T EAT: REFINED WHOLE WHEAT OR CORN TORTILLA/WRAP.
EAT: GRAIN FREE PALEO WRAP.
This swap is especially great for those suffering from diabetes, obesity and women with PCOS as this swap is super blood sugar balancing. Grain-free paleo wraps are SUPER high in fiber, low in carbs, and high in healthy fats. Fiber helps to bind excess hormones and remove them from the bowels. Healthy fats help to reduce inflammation and promote glowing skin and hormonal balance. Lowered carbohydrates, higher fiber, and higher healthy fats help to balance our blood sugar, keep us feeling full longer and reduce cravings.
Here is my favourite brand. It can be found at Healthy Planet
2) DON'T EAT: DAIRY ICE CREAM.
EAT: DAIRY FREE ICE CREAM.
This swap is especially great for those who suffer from acne, hormonal imbalances, irritable bowel and obesity. Milk and dairy products (this includes butter) promote insulin production and induces acne. Acne is triggered by an insulin-disrupting diet, and milk and dairy products contain insulin-like growth factor 1, which then stimulates acne formation. Milk proteins also increase the male sex hormone testosterone which clogs pores and increases oil production in the subcutaneous skin glands. Dairy is also high inflammatory: The sugar and the proteins in dairy are what give it these inflammatory properties in the body. Especially susceptible individuals are those who are lactose intolerant as they do not produce the lactase enzyme, which is required to break down lactose, the sugar found in milk. This worsens the accompanied digestive issues whenever they consume dairy products.
I also swap my regular milk for almond milk and my dairy-based yogurt for coconut, cashew or almond yogurt.
Here are my favourite brands below for dairy substitutes. The salted caramel cluster ice cream flavour is AMAZING. These products can be found at Fresh Co, Healthy Planet, Sobeys and Metro.
3) DON'T EAT: POTATO CHIPS.
EAT: KALE CHIPS.
This swap is great for anyone who is as extra as I am (LOL). If you know me, you know how much I love kale chips, so I felt obligated to put this one in here. With all jokes aside, if you are a snacker you really need to try this swap. Kale chips are the perfect amount of crunch and come in both sweet and savoury flavours. Other chip alternatives include sweet potato chips, banana chips, cassava chips and plantain chips. Making them yourself will eliminate a lot of the pro-inflammatory oils (such as sunflower and canola) that a lot of cheap, store-bought brands use.
Here are my favourite kale chip brands below. They can be found at Healthy Planet and Bulk Barn.
4) DON'T EAT: WHOLE WHEAT PASTA/WHITE PASTA.
EAT: BLACK BEAN PASTA.
This swap is important for anyone looking to lose weight, improve energy and balance their blood sugar. A serving size of pasta is typically 1/2 to 1 cup but let's be real when people eat pasta they go beyond this and end up eating 2-3 cups. Who needs 200+g of carbohydrates before they go lay on the couch and watch Netflix? Unless you are a professional athlete or an extremely active individual, you probably do NOT need carbohydrates to this extent in one sitting. The insulin surge caused by eating this amount of carbohydrates in one meal will have you feeling exhausted within minutes, and then craving something sweet shortly after. It is a vicious cycle. Bean pasta, on the other hand, is LOADED with fiber and protein. This will help to keep you feeling full, longer, balance your blood sugar, and improve hormonal balance
Here is my favourite brand. It can be found at Bulk Barn and Healthy Planet.
5) DON'T EAT: WHOLE WHEAT/REFINED BREADEAT: GRAIN FREE FLAX BREAD.
This swap is again great for people looking to balance their blood sugar, manage their hormones, improve body composition, fight candida and improve digestive health. The number of healthy fats and fibre in this bread alternative will help to bind excess hormones such as estrogen and remove them in the bowels. Elevated estrogen levels are associated with weight gain (the more estrogen you have, the more fat you produce). Flax also contains natural phytoestrogens which help to block harmful xenoestrogens, associated with estrogen dominant cancers, from binding to our hormone receptor sites. Lastly, this recipe is grain free, gluten free, and dairy free so it is perfect for anyone with food sensitivities that can worsen digestive issues. Get the recipe https://www.marissaliana.com/single-post/2018/03/21/Paleo-Flax-Loaf