Food Swaps That Can Improve the Western Diet Lover's Health

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Food Swaps That Can Improve the Western Diet Lover's Health

You’ve likely heard of the Western Diet, also known as the typical American’s diet. Given its negative effect on your health, it might as well be dubbed the Wild Western Diet. Sadly, it’s how many Americans tend to eat and it’s becoming increasingly popular in developing countries as well. Large amounts of red meat, sugary desserts, high-fat foods and refined grains are eaten instead of wholesome, unprocessed foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seafood and poultry. It’s no surprise that the Western diet is linked to heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and cancer (particularly colorectal cancer).

Don’t worry; if you find yourself falling prey to the “meat-sweet diet” pattern (or, for some people, the “meat-eater and drinker” pattern), we’ve got some tips to help you slowly ease out. And the great news is that if you’re looking to shed a few pounds, these small steps add up and will help facilitate weight loss. Over time your lifestyle pattern will shift from “meat-sweet” to “a delicious and healthy diet you can’t beat.” And if you don’t consume a Westernized diet, consider this a checklist to make sure you’re on the right track when it comes to your diet.

Here are some simple swaps to deliciously shift your eating pattern away from the Wild Western Diet:

1. Cut saturated fat.

  • Swap out butter.
    • Replace fat calories from butter with other heart-healthy sources like nuts, seeds, avocado and fatty fish.
    • When cooking, go for unsaturated oils like olive, canola and avocado oil. (Remember, oils are calorie-dense just as butter is; so use in moderation.)
    • Instead of using butter on bread, use a dab of olive oil and, if desired, a small amount of balsamic vinegar for a flavor boost. Or spread a roasted garlic bulb, hummus or nut butter over warm bread.
      • Try our healthy Faux Butter (only 15 calories a tablespoon compared to 100 in butter)
  • For baking, use apple sauce or a smashed banana in a 1:1 ratio instead of butter. You’ll get only a quarter of the calories and virtually no fat. If the sacrifice in flavor is too much, start by using half butter and half the swap.
  • Use pureed avocado in an equal amount in place of butter in any recipe. In an ounce, you’ll cut calories and fat in half and add 2 grams of fiber as well as some potassium.

2. Swap out red meat.

3. Swap out refined and processed foods.

At meal times, replace white flour breads and processed grains like white bread and white rice with oats, whole grain breads, quinoa, millet, amaranth, brown rice, etc.
At snack times—rather than chips, candy and soda try:

4. Eat more plant foods.

  • Prepare or order omelets, sandwiches, pizzas, wraps and burritos with veggies.
  • Order a side of steamed veggies without added butter or oil. If you’re at home, pop frozen veggies in the microwave and mix them right in whatever meal you are eating. You’ll add great texture, flavor and color and the veggies will pick up the flavor from the sauce in the meal. Chinese chicken and rice? Pasta and chicken? Mac-and-cheese? You end up eating less of the heavy stuff and fill your stomach with the lower-calorie, fiber- and nutrient-packed veggies.
  • Include one red, green or orange vegetable or fruit in every meal. When you concentrate on getting one of these colors at each meal, you won’t forget.
  • For more easy ways to increase your veggies, check out some more of our tips.

These small delicious changes will help you to eat more healthfully and leave the Wild West out of your diet.

The Nutrition TwinsThe Nutrition Twins Contributor

Tammy Lakatos Shames and Elysse (“Lyssie”) Lakatos, The Nutrition Twins®, share a passion to teach people how to eat healthfully and exercise so they'll have energy to live happy lives. The twins have been featured as nutrition experts on Good Morning America, Discovery Health, Fox News, NBC, Bravo, CBS, The Learning Channel, FitTV, Oxygen Network, and Fox & Friends. They co-wrote The Nutrition Twins Veggie Cure: Expert Advice and Tantalizing Recipes for Health, Energy and Beauty, The Secret to Skinny: How Salt Makes You Fat and the 4-Week Plan to Drop A Size & Get Healthier with Simple Low Sodium Swaps. The twins are both ACE Certified Personal Trainers, and members of the American Dietetic Association and several Dietetic Practice Groups.

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