How to Make ANY Meal Healthier!

When it comes to food, there are a lot of differing opinions on what the right or wrong practices are. There are so many thoughts on different foods, nutrients, calories, amounts of foods, types of foods and timing of foods that it can be overwhelming to someone whose just trying to eat a little better!

So today I want to share a few simple ways you can make ANY meal healthier and a few of my favorite food swaps. Here’s the deal though, you are not obligated to make your meals healthier. If you love greasy, pizza from Domino’s, I’m not going to try to convince you that cauliflower crust will taste the same. I will still give you some tips and if you want to try different variations out, be my guest. But life is about balance and finding what works for you. Choose to eat the versions of foods you truly enjoy and be open to trying new things. Maybe you’ll realize you love veggie burgers and never skimp when it comes to donuts. That’s your choice, but what it comes down too is balance and creativity!

Obsession around food, comes when we operate out of a restrictive mindset. The more you tell yourself you are not allowed to eat something the more you want. Plain and simple. Allowing yourself to eat all types of foods, puts the power back in your court and allows you to choose foods based on taste, cravings and preferences. Not based on fear.

I went a long time, cutting out things I loved, to try and look a certain way that never actually made me like myself the way I thought it would. Adding those foods back in has created more peace and more balance in my life and I feel healthier and happier than when I never ate them at all.

Take each of these suggestions with a grain of salt and do what makes the most sense for you. But choose to make those decisions because you are curious and open, not for fear of the calories or lack of nutrients. Life is short and it’s time to stop eating things we don’t enjoy and avoiding things we love just so we can be a few pounds lighter!

Tips to make any meal healthier:

  1. Sauce on the side! This is a great and simple way to choose how much of something is added to your meal. Maybe you love eggs benedict with hollandaise sauce but let’s be real, more often than not there is moorrreee than enough sauce. By simply asking for things on the side you are able to customize the meal to your flavor preference. Maybe you use all of it, maybe you don’t, but this simple shift can allow you to minimize some of the over-powering flavors that take away from all the other goodness on your plate.

  2. Add herbs and spices! There are so many great benefits to a multitude of herbs and spices that simply by adding them into your meal, you will get great nutrients without changing the flavor all that much. One of my favorite things to do is add turmeric to my eggs (thanks @courtneykahla for the idea) in the morning and then whatever else sounds good! Sometimes I have it with avocado, sometimes it’s on a bagel and sometimes it’s scrambled, but either way, I add turmeric! Turmeric is great anti-inflammatory and I honestly don’t really taste it! Pair it with pepper and you increase absorption by 2,000 percent! Other examples are rosemary helping with allergies and reducing nasal congestion, garlic can improve heart health and help prevent sickness, and cinnamon can help lower your blood sugar. So many simple spices in our cabinet can benefit us and make a meal even yummier, so sprinkle some in next time!

  3. Always add a salad! I don’t mean you have to always eat a salad as your meal, but getting in veggies at every meal is only going to make you feel better and a great way to get nutrients without sacrificing another meal option. A great example is when you go to your favorite burger or pizza place, start with a small salad instead of the bread or chips! Enjoy the pizza to the fullest but also know you are getting in some amazing nutrients beforehand that make your body happy as well!

  4. Eat off smaller plates! It’s actually been proven that smaller plates equal smaller portions. Duh, right? But this simple visual cue helps us eat slower and forces us to start off consuming less. That doesn’t mean you can’t go back for seconds, but often in the US our portions are much larger than what we actually are hungry for but if we ignore our bodies signals and just use visual cues we can often eat more than we need too. So next time you’re at a buffet or family meal, serve it off of smaller plates and see how that changes how much you eat! You might even realize you get sooner fuller than you realize when you actually start off with less!

  5. Chew slowly and think happy thoughts! I know this might sounds silly, but your body will absorb and process foods much better when you are calm and happy as you eat. When you like the food you are eating your body is better able to maximize all the nutrients and discard the rest. When we eat under stress or feel depressed or angry as we eat something (like wishing we were eating something else), our bodies will not process your food as effectively. This means that the salad your eating, isn’t as worth it, if you’re resentful with every bite. Choose to eat with thankfulness and joy and you will feel more connected to your meal and your body and better able to use up all the goodness!

My Favorite Food Swaps:

  1. Lettuce wrap for bread (or remove one slice)! You do not have to do this all the time, but you know the sandwiches, burgers and wraps that honestly just aren’t made better by the bread they come with? Those are perfect times to do a lettuce wrap instead! It will make the meal lighter and allow you to better taste all the ingredients. There are so many times where the bread takes up most of the bite and reduces so much of the flavor! I will sometimes just take off the top piece of bread as well so I can better enjoy all the ingredients! Yes, it’s a little messier but I enjoy it more and don’t feel as though I am missing out.

  2. Sparkling water or kombucha for soda, juice or wine! Sometime you just want to sip on something but you’re not sure what. It can be out of habit that you grab certain beverages and a lot of it has to do with what you have on hand. Start stocking up on flavored waters and kombucha to add variety to your fridge and taste buds. If you don’t like them, no worries, but try different flavors and different brands before nixing them all completely!

  3. Veggie rice, brown rice or quinoa for white rice! When it comes to nutrients, white rice is pretty lacking but sometimes so good. There are some meals where you don’t care and prefer white rice but I have started to realize that I enjoy certain sushi rolls without rice and certain stir-frys and fried rice bowls with substitutes instead. Simply buy or “rice” your own cauliflower and cook along with other veggies and sauces. Most recipes will seamlessly taste great with something like quinoa, especially in Mexican style dishes. If you want the rice texture but want to make it a little healthier, brown rice is a simple way to do that!

  4. Cauliflower crust or whole wheat crust for pizza! More than likely you have seen people talking about cauliflower crust and in some ways it’s a great alternative and in other way’s it’s not. Thought it reduces your carbs, many of the recipes add a lot of cheese which only adds more fat to the meal. Many people blindly trust that it is healthier just because it’s packaged that way or is made with cauliflower. I have found that the pre-made crusts are the best way to go if you choose to substitute a cauliflower crust. They won’t get as crispy but toped with sauce, cheese and veggies it’s still a great option!

  5. Homemade dressings & sauces rather than store bought! I know this one takes a little more time making anything yourself will drastically reduce the amount of unnecessary ingredients and allow you to have more creativity with your meals. This can be a fun thing to do as a family and put in jars into your fridge. You might realize that there are still a few you want to purchase instead and that’s okay but you might also see just how easy making pasta is and enjoy doing it more in the future! If you do want to buy store bought sauces and dressings, do your best to read ingredient labels. There are often a lot of things you won’t recognize so go for brands or products with the simplest list that you still enjoy!

I hope these tips and swaps were helpful! What are your simple go-to’s to make any meal healthier?