I pretty much just coined the term substitution diet, but it is primarily how I think about dieting these days. When people ask me how to eat healthier I always tell them to give me a journal of what they have eaten for a week. Anything less than a week is probably too short and anything over a week is probably too long for people to want to do.
Once I can see what someone has been putting down their pie hole for a week I can start recommending what they should stop eating and what they should start eating.
The thing is most diets are about eliminating something or possibly adding something, but both approaches fall short of really helping someone out in the long run.
Actually when we think of the word “diet” or “dieting” we mostly think of someone wanting to lose weight. But we can also diet to gain muscle mass or have a better body composition. And we can simply diet to improve our health or possibly to help cure a disease or prevent one.
In most people’s view the best diet is one that is a permanent way to keep off unwanted pounds and fat, and for us to be as healthy as possible for the rest of our lives.
A diet that is “low-carb” or “low-fat” may not be the best thing for you. The Atkins diet, the blood type diet, the south beach diet, a vegetarian diet, a weight watchers diet, or any other type of diet may or may not be good for you depending on who you are and what kind of life you lead.
People always want a black and white answer to their problems, but your health problems don’t always have black and white answers. The way you should eat depends on a large number of factors.
Which leads me right back to the Substitution Diet. This is the best way I have found so far to get people eating better for their health.
The idea is simple. Take one unhealthy thing out of your diet and replace it with one good thing. One example for this would be to stop eating pork sausages and start eating pork loin. Pork sausage is usually made from the worst cuts of meat, has too much fat, and has a lot of preservatives like sodium nitrate in it that you are better off not ingesting. Pork loin on the other hand should technically be fresher and has a better makeup of proteins and fats that will be beneficial too you.
Here are some other examples…
- Wheat Gluten – Gluten is a very well known gut irritant that has all kinds of ways to mess you up. You may not think you are gluten intolerant but most people don’t do so well with it. More and more “gluten free” products are coming out on the market, but even they have some problems with their makeup. One good substitution example is the “Unwich” that Jimmy John’s came up with. Basically you can get any of their sandwiches in a lettuce wrap instead of a bread wrap.
- Soda Pop – This is one of the worst things for you especially if you drink it everyday. High Fructose Corn Syrup is one of the worst sugars and plenty of studies have shown that it contributes a lot to obesity and diabetes. Diet Soda isn’t that much of an improvement because there have been studies showing that the artificial sweeteners in them are potentially carcinogenic and mess up the connection between your mind, your taste buds, and what your stomach ultimately gets. One way to add a good substitute is to get a Sodastream machine where you can make your own soda at home and add any flavors you want. Basically what you end up with is carbonated water with some lemon and/or lime squeezed in it that is 1000 times more healthy that any other drink on the market.
- Legumes – This is another category of foods that a lot of people have problems with. They include beans, peanuts, and soy products. Many vegans and vegetarians have trouble getting enough protein and one of the best sources of plant protein is the bean. However, if you know you have trouble digesting them you may want to think about eating peas (peas are technically a fruit) which are also high in protein. Most people seem to eat peanuts in the form of peanut butter and almond butter is a great substitute. Soy also provides a lot of protein, but some good substitutes for it are coconut, rice, and almond products.
- Dairy – Some people have a lactose intolerance and coconut milk, rice milk, and almond milk are all potential substitutes.
- Processed Foods – Maybe you aren’t really allergic or that intolerant to anything, but you eat a lot of processed foods. It is always good to replace a processed food (pork sausage) with an unprocessed food (pork loin).
I could go on a long time with this subject and list every food swap I have ever recommended or could think of, but that would take a long time and you probably would get very bored reading it. The point is that you don’t have to follow some diet religiously or at all. You simply have to look at what foods you are currently eating, and slowly but surely switch them out for the better foods.
Wait… I got one last one for you. For the love of every good and green thing on this Earth, stop using salad dressing (it’s evil, trust me) and start using oil and vinegar or just a splash of lemon juice on your salads. Thank me later!
This is our 15th challenge in The Personal Health Challenge Series…