I was initially going to talk about food substitutions but as I prepared and researched this concept I found a different approach to this topic. Registered Dietitian and founder of The Well Necessities blog, proposed we change from the idea of foods substitutions to food additions, in her 4-part blog series, “The Deep Psychology of Food Substitutions.” Cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles, and black bean brownies are all delicious and serve a purpose whether it’s the same as their non-substitute counterpart. But can’t a girl eat some pasta without feeling guilty and unhealthy because she didn’t pick zucchini noodles instead. Having a substitution mindset rather than addition mindset can hinder our relationship to food and scare us from enjoying foods we’ve grown up with and will be around us for the rest of our lives. Pizza can be eaten just for the sake of it being pleasurable and delicious. We can get our other micro and macro nutrients by adding a kale salad with grilled chicken, or maybe that one day we just have pizza and that’s okay, that doesn’t make us unhealthy. In this blog post I want to share some ideas on how we can shift from this substitution mindset to a food addition mindset and how we can incorporate reduced, low, and non-fat/sugar/sodium food versions into our diet.
What if instead of choosing to have only spaghetti or the lower carb option of zucchini noodles we make half spaghetti half zucchini noodles. That way we get the best of both worlds. Spaghetti is energy-dense with more than 200 calories per serving, and a source of complex carbohydrates with more than 40 grams of carbs in one serving. Spaghetti has 8 grams of protein in 1 cup serving which you cannot get with zucchini noodles alone. Spaghetti also has 10% of your daily iron needs, as well as 5% of your vitamin B-6 and 6% of the recommended allowance of magnesium.
Zucchini contains 55 calories, 3.9g protein, 1.0g grams of carbohydrates, 3.2g fiber, and 8.1g sugar. Some micro nutrients are calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium. And vitamin A, C, k and folic acid. And as a bonus it contains antioxidants as well.
Bringing these two foods together not only creates a more nutrient dense meal but it empowers you to keep eating the foods you love without compromising your satisfaction.
Don’t get me wrong, saturated fats can raise the risk of heart disease, these fats in the bloodstream raise the levels of LDL cholesterol (“bad cholesterol). So, making these reductions are in our health’s best interest.
Sometimes making these switches can be an uncomfortable to our pallet here are some tips I found that helped me make this switch
The NIH on The Skinny on Fat, The Good the Bad, and the Unknown, reflect on what eliminating a food from your diet can lead to. In this article they share that when people began following low fat diets, they not only cut saturated fats, the replaced healthy unsaturated fats with processed carbohydrates. “Initially, when we recommended cutting total fat we did not anticipate people would replace it with fat-free foods, like cookies, crackers, and ice cream, made with refined grains and sugar,” says Dr. Alice H. Lichtenstein. That is my concern, that when we eliminate a certain food that contains certain nutrients we then put ourselves at risk on missing out on other benefits that food may provide. Which leads to misconceptions about foods and nutrition, like eating fat, any kind of fat is bad.
So, let’s start a new movement on food additions and empower each other to get the full benefits of food whether it be about the nutrition, experience or pleasure it brings us.
www.heart.org. (2019). Smart Substitutions to Eat Healthy. [online] Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/cooking-skills/cooking/smart-substitutions-to-eat-healthy [Accessed 14 Nov. 2019].
Herous, M. (2019). Zucchini Recipe & Nutrition | Precision Nutrition's Encyclopedia of Food. [online] Precision Nutrition. Available at: https://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/zucchini [Accessed 14 Nov. 2019].
Wein, Ph.D., H. (2019). The Skinny on Fat. [online] NIH News in Health. Available at: https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2019/03/skinny-fat [Accessed 14 Nov. 2019].
The Digestible; a site for easy to understand food, nutrition, health, and energy balance information.