Did you know that your gut health is central to the overall health of your entire body? Not only is it imperative to your whole-body wellness, it is directly linked to your weight—gains and losses! That’s right. An imbalanced gut can lead to an entire host of issues including weight gain, hormonal imbalances, mood swings, and even skin issues. Switching out some of your everyday foods with healthier options is one of the best steps you can take to support your gut health and shed extra weight. The magic behind having a healthy digestive system and a healthy weight may be more healthy gut flora!
Here are five easy food swaps you can make that can help support weight loss and gut health too. These food swaps are not only simple but will also transform your taste buds too. And don’t worry. You won’t have to eliminate your favorite dishes. Instead, you will be enjoying them in a much healthier way.
#1 Use Rice Pasta vs. Wheat-Based Pasta:
If you are a pasta lover, this food swap is an easy one. Wheat-based pasta can be inflammatory and hard on the digestive system. Instead, try gluten-free brown rice pasta. You barely notice the taste difference and probably won’t feel as bloated after eating it either. Rice pasta does cook slightly faster than traditional wheat pasta, so mind the cooking time.
#2 Cauliflower Rice vs. White Rice:
Does white rice leave you feeling super bloated and uncomfortable after eating it? It’s a very heavy carbohydrate, and some people don’t tolerate it well. Instead, you can make a super yummy cauliflower rice by adding cooked cauliflower to a food processor and pulsing it until it reaches a rice-like consistency. Cauliflower rice substitute is the new craze, so you may be able to find it prepackaged as well and even as a pizza crust. Add in some chopped garlic, basil, olive oil, and sea salt and you have yourself a delicious alternative that is both weight loss- and gut health-friendly.
#3 Rolled Oats vs. Cereal:
Cereal is often loaded with sugar and contains little to no fiber. Despite how it’s marketed to you, it’s not the best choice for breakfast. Instead, you could enjoy a warm bowl of rolled oats with some fresh fruit, a spoonful of nut butter, and a drizzle of raw honey. Oatmeal is packed with fiber, giving your digestive system a boost, and it’s also very filling, so you will be less likely to grab a sugary snack two hours after breakfast. If you don’t have time to make a bowl of oatmeal in the morning, you can make overnight oats using rolled oats, unsweetened almond or coconut milk, and chia seeds. Allow this to sit in the fridge overnight, and then top with your desired toppings in the morning. There are also gluten-free rolled oats available for people who have gluten sensitivities. This makes the perfect grab-and-go breakfast when you are in a rush to get out the door to work or school.
#4 Smoothies vs. Juice, Sugary Coffee Drinks, or Soda:
If drinking water all day just isn’t cutting it for you, you may be reaching for food or other sugary drinks such as juice, coffee, or soda that offer nothing but empty calories and lead to weight gain. And not just weight gain—drinking those instead of water can lead to gut flora imbalances as well. Instead, try making a homemade smoothie, but make sure you are using mostly greens with just a little fruit. Smoothies are super refreshing and add gut-boosting fiber, essential vitamins, and minerals. If you include other superfoods like flaxseeds, hemp and chia seeds, coconut oil, and spirulina, you will feel even more energized and satiated with the good fats and fiber. You can also make a guilt-free chocolate shake using a half-frozen banana, unsweetened coconut milk, raw cocoa powder, a teaspoon of raw honey, and a clean protein powder. Not only will this help nourish your body, but you will skip all the processed and artificial sugars commonly found in fruit juices and sodas with no afternoon energy crash.
#5 Unsweetened Greek Yogurt vs. Flavored Yogurts:
If you enjoy yogurt, this is one of the healthiest swaps you can make. Most flavored yogurts contain lots of added sugar, and some even contain artificial sweeteners, which can be very hard on the digestive system. Both regular and artificial sweeteners can also lead to weight gain. An easy swap for sugar-containing yogurts would be full-fat unsweetened Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is full of protein, and the full-fat version will provide you with some healthy fat to power through your day. Plus, it contains beneficial probiotics for your gut health. You can even make a yogurt parfait using nuts, seeds, and fresh fruit. Need it a little sweeter? Try adding some raw honey or pure maple syrup.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be hard, and it can still be delicious! With a little creativity, you can make some super easy food swaps that will still allow you to enjoy your favorite dishes, but in a healthier way. Making swaps instead of depriving yourself of the foods you love is also a great way to stay on a healthy eating path while supporting gut health and a healthy weight.
Try making these food swaps and see what it can do for your health. Small changes can eventually lead to big results, and once you get the ball rolling, you will be more likely to stick to your healthy food swaps long-term, making your weight loss and overall health goals much more attainable!