Healthy Alternatives to Common Foods: Carbohydrates

Katie Hamner, UA CPD Student

Simple carbohydrates are a kind of sugar that is quickly metabolized for energy. Complex carbohydrates are sugars that take longer to digest; therefore, they keep you satisfied longer. Both simple and complex carbohydrates can be found in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and peas. These foods also provide essential components to the diet such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Simple carbohydrates in candy, sodas, table sugar, and syrups do not have vitamins and minerals, and only provide calories.

  1. Fruit Juice vs. Whole Fruit

Certain kinds of fruit juices contain a high amount of added sugar. In fact, fruit juice and regular soda are very similar in their sugar content. Simple sugar creates empty calories that do not contribute any other nutrients. Whole fruit, on the other hand, has potassium, vitamin C, folate, as well as dietary fiber to help keep you full. Choose whole fruit over fruit juice for these reasons in order to prevent weight gain and to reduce the risk of certain diseases.

  • White Rice vs. Steel Cut Oats

White rice is a starch that has been refined and many of its nutrients removed during processing. For this reason, white rice is a source of empty calories. Steel cut oats are a great source of fiber, iron, and protein. Oats are whole grains, complex carbohydrates, and a low glycemic index food. Choosing to eat steel cut oats for breakfast will help sustain your energy level throughout the day. However, something this healthy and delicious should not be limited to breakfast. Check out the link below for savory oatmeal recipes or replace rice in any recipe with steel cut oats.

  • Coffee Creamer vs. Low-Fat Milk

The typical American diet is deficient in vitamin D and calcium. We mainly get these nutrients from dairy. However, sources of these nutrients in dairy products such as coffee creamers, whole milk, and half-and-half are also high in fat and added sugar. Low-fat dairy is the best source of these essential nutrients and contains only natural sugar from lactose. If you like flavor in your morning cup of joe, then skip the flavored creamer and try cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamon.

Webinar: Supermarket Solutions for Healthy Living

Making healthy choices is not always easy when money and time are a factor. Supermarket Solutions for Healthy Living will provide tips for making a grocery store trip more efficient. Learn how to navigate the store, where to find the healthiest options, and how to read a nutrition label. This wellness webinar will empower you to make healthy choices, the easiest choices.

Healthy Alternatives to Common Foods: Good Fats

Katie Hamner, UA CPD Student

There are many fad diets out there that claim fat is the enemy to healthy eating and living. Maybe you have seen fad diets that want you to eliminate fat from your diet. This is a big problem because fat is necessary to be healthy. Essential fatty acids need to come from the things we eat since the body is unable to make its own. Although certain types of fat should be restricted like trans-fat and saturated fat, we do need other types of fat like monounsaturated fat as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Here are a few healthy alternatives to consider when choosing the healthiest fats possible.

  1. Mayonnaise vs. Hummus

One tablespoon of regular mayo provides 90 calories that all come from fat. There are no other essential nutrients or vitamins, so this is a calorie-dense food option. Saturated fat should be restricted to less than 10% of your daily calorie needs. One tablespoon of mayo gives 8% of the daily value from saturated fat. If you want to add a delicious flavor to your sandwich without the guilt, try adding your favorite hummus instead. One tablespoon of hummus has half the calories and fat when compared to mayo. It is nutrient-dense which means that it contains more vitamins and minerals. Hummus is creamy and comes in a wide variety of flavors. You can also eat hummus as a snack or side by dipping all kinds of veggies in it.

  • Fat-Free vs Regular Dressing

Although the label may claim to be fat-free, food companies often replace the calories from fat with calories from added sugar. The dressing just would not taste very good without it. When you pour that fat-free dressing on your colorful and healthy salad, you are probably making that meal less healthy. Vegetables contain vitamins which require fat in order to be absorbed. If these vitamins are not absorbed, then the body discards them as waste. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins and essential for a healthy diet. Try mixing four parts olive oil and one part balsamic vinegar. Or try the recipe below for creamy avocado dressing.

  • Lean Meats

Protein should be consumed from a variety of food sources like legumes, eggs, and yogurt. Although animal protein is a good source of Vitamin B12, intake should be limited since consuming excess has been linked to unhealthy weight gain, high triglyceride and cholesterol levels, and risk of certain diseases. Choose the leanest meats if you consume animal products regularly. Chicken, turkey, and fish are the best options. Red meat, cold cuts, and sausages are high in fat, sodium, and cholesterol and should be restricted to special occasions. When working with pork chops or steaks, make sure to trim the fat as you prepare your meal. Remember to balance your meals with plant-protein sources such as beans, lentils, and tofu.

Join Katie Hamner, UA Coordinated Program in Dietetics student, as she discussed how to make the most out of your next grocery shopping trip.

Healthy Alternatives to Common Foods: A Fix for Your Salt-Tooth

By: Katie Hamner, UA Student, Coordinated Program in Dietetics

Do you have a salt-tooth? If you feel strongly about salty snacks and don’t want to sacrifice your health with the added sodium, then toss the saltshaker out. Salt is made up of sodium which is the major culprit behind high blood pressure, heart and kidney disease, as well as fluid retention which causes bloating. Salty snacks can also damage the enamel in the teeth. These healthy alternatives can help you reduce your sodium intake while adding flavor to dishes.

  1. Salt vs. Herbs and Spices

Salt added during cooking or sprinkled on the plate may taste good however, most of us could do without the extra sodium content in our diet. Skip the saltshaker and grab a bundle of fresh herbs or add flavor to your dishes using various spices. There are also herbs that are ready-to-use and come in a tube in the produce aisle. Get creative and substitute the salt anywhere in the recipe.

  • Canned vs. Fresh or Frozen Veggies

Although it may seem like you’re saving a few cents in the canned aisle, canned produce is notorious for its sodium content. Frozen vegetables are the best alternative if fresh produce is not available. Frozen produce has the same nutrient content as fresh, is available year-round, and has a longer shelf-life. Although it may seem like your wallet will be spared at the check-out counter, don’t repay that cost with your health. If canned produce is the only option, then make sure to rinse the contents under running water and drain well before preparing.

  • Chips vs. Popcorn

Potato chips are everywhere we look. They are usually offered as a side dish and always served in a big bowl at tailgating parties. It is best to avoid the high sodium and carbohydrate content of regular potato chips. Unsalted popcorn is a great alternative to potato chips. Popcorn is very low in calories and carbs with a decent amount of fiber. Not a fan of popcorn without the salt and butter? Try to create your own flavors instead. If you like spice, then sprinkle some chili powder on top. If you feel like having something sweet, then try cinnamon. Other flavors you should try are lime zest, garlic powder, cocoa powder, or parmesan cheese.

Healthy Alternatives to Common Foods: Sweet Treats

By: Katie Hamner, UA Student, Coordinated Program in Dietetics

Are you tired of dieting? Do you feel that sometimes there’s no way of curbing that sweet tooth? You’re not alone. There are many healthy alternatives to be considered before giving up on your goals. These small adjustments to your meals and snacks could be just the thing you need to achieve your weight-loss goals. If you try something that you don’t like at first, then don’t give up just yet. It may take your tastebuds a few tries to get used to a new thing. The purpose of these easy swaps is to expand your pallet and try foods that you wouldn’t normally eat. Go for those nutrient-dense options and cut out some of the calories in the process. Win-Win!

1. Ice Cream vs. “Nice” Cream

When your sweet tooth calls on a regular basis, it would be better for your waistline as well as your wallet to switch to a healthy alternative. Coined by many as “nice” cream, this delicious treat is super easy to whip up and has approximately 100 calories per serving. The task is simple: chop and freeze a ripe banana; pulse the frozen banana pieces in a food processor or blender while adding 1 tbsp of milk at a time until it is as smooth as the consistency of soft-serve ice cream; add 1 tsp of cocoa powder to the banana mixture and then enjoy a delicious, healthy treat.

2. Milk Chocolate vs. Dark Chocolate

The simple fact of the matter is that milk chocolate contains outstanding amounts of added sugar and fat, which is what makes it so deliciously irresistible. On the other hand, dark chocolate has its own health benefits such as disease-fighting antioxidants and high fiber for digestive health. It may be a big change at first, but the extra calories really do start to pile up during Halloween and the holidays that follow. Try the chocolate that is 70% cocoa or more to reap the benefits.

3. Granola Bar vs. Trail Mix

These two may not sound very different, but depending on the brand and the contents, trail mix is definitely the better option. Known to some as “GORP”, short for Good Ol’ Raisins and Peanuts, trail mix is a simple snack and consists of a variety of nuts and seeds as well as any kind of dried fruit. Granola bars, although may seem harmless, are highly processed snack foods and most likely contain high amounts of added sugar. Combine your favorite heart-healthy nuts, sweet dried fruit which is rich in antioxidants, and any other simple ingredients like seeds, pretzels, or cacao nibs for a satisfying snack anywhere and anytime.

If you liked these suggestions and you want more tips for better eating habits, check back later for more ‘Healthy Alternatives to Common Foods’.nuts, sweet dried fruit which is rich in antioxidants, and any other simple ingredients like seeds, pretzels, or cacao nibs for a satisfying snack anywhere and anytime.If you liked these suggestions and you want more tips for better eating habits,check back later for more ‘Healthy Alternatives to Common Foods’.

Webinar – Stress & Relaxation Techniques

Learn specific strategies to develop and support positive coping strategies during stressful times and explore the relationship between your health and stress, with nursing faculty and health coach Abby Horton.

Exploring Stress and Relaxation Techniques

Authored by Abby G. Horton, MSN, RN, CHC, CLC

We are approaching the last quarter of 2020, there’s about 100 days left in the year. How do you want to show up for yourself and your life in the next 100 days? Stress may be a part of your new norm or maybe you have always been challenged with daily stressors – no matter what your circumstances, stress is inevitable to a degree. So, let’s fix our focus and control what we can control. And, so much of what we can control is really centered on our mindset!

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.” ― Gandhi

Steps to Stress Reduction

  • Focus on Your FIVE to THRIVE (get sleep/rest, hydrate, nourish your body, move your body, & meditate every day).
  • Go for walk.
  • Spend time in nature.
  • Practice Mindfulness and Meditation.
  • Fix your focus – what you focus on manifests.
  • Try journaling.
  • Sing, laugh, and rest!
  • See what works best for you – Trial and error with self-care practices!
  • Connect with friends and loved ones.
  • Repeat positive affirmations, often!


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