Healthy Food Swaps

Failed diets, cheat days, late-night snacking and emotional eating: we all have our vices that keep us from achieving our healthy eating goals, so when we do try to make the right choices, we want to know that they count. Unfortunately, not all health foods are created equal, and sometimes the very foods we eat in an effort to be healthy are really not the best for us. The following are some healthy eating trends that actually have healthier alternatives. Take a look and decide whether your diet needs some modification:

Diet soda

With all the sweetness of regular soda and none of the sugar, diet soda seems like an ideal choice for the calorie-conscious sweet tooth. But this bubbly beverage is actually bad news for your health and your weight. Diet soda decreases kidney function, weakens bones, stimulates sweet cravings, and possibly even elevates blood sugar. And a recent study published in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that diet soda drinkers gained almost triple the amount of belly fat as non-users over a 10 year period.

The healthier alternative: Plain old H2O. With no artificial colors, flavors or additives, water is the best choice to keep you hydrated.

Gluten-free dieting

The gluten-free diet has been hailed by celebrities as an effective way to lose weight, but experts warn that giving up gluten isn’t wise. Many whole grain products that contain gluten are full of vital nutrients, and giving up these foods could result in vitamin deficiency. Furthermore, many gluten-free packaged foods are high in sugar, salt, fat and other additives, making them a poor choice for healthy weight loss.

The healthier alternative: A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein.


For years, margarine was believed to be the healthier alternative to butter, but that’s not always the case. Most stick margarines are made through the process of hydrogenation which produces trans fats. Studies have linked trans fat to an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, elevated cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.

The healthier alternative: Butter is somewhat healthier but should still be used sparingly due to saturated fat content. Tub margarines without hydrogenated oils are the best choice for heart health.

Vegetarian diet

Vegans and vegetarians tend to weigh less than people who eat meat, but their diets may be lacking in nutrients like protein and B12.

The healthier alternative: Consider eating fish or dairy to increase your intake of protein. If you follow a strict vegan diet, look for foods that are fortified with B12, and consume high-protein plants such as beans, nuts and soy.

Fat-free dairy

Fat-free dairy products are an easy way to enjoy the taste of dairy without the fat, but studies show that this may not be the best way to lose weight. Swedish researchers found that men who ate full-fat dairy products were less likely to become obese in their midsections compared to men who rarely ate full-fat dairy products.

The healthier alternative: Eat full-fat dairy products in moderation or choose low-fat varieties (Source: Time).