Swap These 5 Foods to See a Change in Your Body


Sometimes, all it takes is a few tweaks to your everyday meals and snacks to start leaning toward a healthier diet. Remember, it’s all about developing healthier, smarter habits! Use this list as a way to help you get started – even if you only choose 1 out of these 5, it’s a step towards a healthier you.

CHOOSE: Spiralized Vegetables

LOSE: Flour - based spaghetti

Spiralized vegetables for 5 healthy food swaps by baraa el sabbagh, dietitian, personal trainer

Whether whole wheat or not, regular spaghetti can pack on pounds without you realizing it! There are a ton of more wholesome, natural variations available including zucchini noodles (also known as ‘zoodles’), spaghetti squash, spiraled carrots and beets, and my all time favorite – sweet potato spirals.

Even if you don’t own a spiralizer, local supermarkets like Spinney’s and Carrefour carry a large variety of fresh, ready-made options. If you’re reading this and you live in the U.S. Trade Joe’s sells both carrot and zucchini spirals in their frozen food section.

Options like this make healthy eating so convenient, and it’s easy to be able to swap over 200 calories (found in a cup of spaghetti) for a mere 20.  Find some quick recipes here.

Don’t get us wrong, you can still enjoy your whole-grain pasta and it does have benefits but this little swap might make a huge difference in your weight loss journey.

CHOOSE: Hummus and Veggies

LOSE: Chips and Dip

Hummus and vegetables as healthy food swaps by baraa el sabbagh dietitian and personal trainer and sports nutritionist in dubai

Craving chips and dip while watching TV? Most of the time, we tend to not realize what we’re consuming while engrossed in the latest episode of This is Us. So why not make it a crunchy, healthy snack, with just as delicious a dip as salsa?

Reaching for sliced carrots, cucumbers or bell peppers and dipping it into a fresh tub of hummus is just as satisfying. You can also spice things up by adding some spices on top of the veggies too like cumin or black pepper. Plus, you not only save hundreds of calories by laying off the chips, but you’re able to get in a good serving of your daily veggies.


LOSE: Milk Chocolate /Sugar

Dates and tahini as a snack for healthy food swaps by baraa el sabbagh dietitian and personal trainer and sports nutritionist in dubai

Dates are the most versatile, natural alternative to artificial sweeteners, and make a great substitute for sugar in countless baking recipes. They’re also a great way to naturally sweeten sauces or salad dressings.

Personally, I love to have them as an easy pre or even post-workout snack when I’m on the go. I usually keep them packed in a Ziploc bag with other nuts such as walnuts and almonds.

Do keep in mind that while dates are loaded with great nutrients such as fiber, it’s easy to overconsume them  - stick to about four or five per day. Remember, moderation is key!  If you’d like more middle east influenced date recipes, be sure to check out this Buzzfeed article. 

CHOOSE: Homemade smoothie

LOSE: Fruit Juice

healthy smoothie as healthy food swaps by baraa el sabbagh dietitian, personal trainer and sports nutritionist in dubai

While it’s great to feel good about yourself whilst picking up that ‘Fresh’ OJ off a grocery store shelf, many pre-packaged, store-bought juices are full of preservatives, sugar, and other artificial ingredients.

Juices that are also just fruit based are packed with sugar from the fruit, causing sugar spikes and crashes thereafter. Smoothies blend the entire set of ingredients together, making you feel full for longer due to the high density of fiber.

When making your own smoothie at home, you’re in control of the ingredients added, and can also be sure to balance the fruit and vegetable ratio. Personally, I always like to keep cucumbers and either spinach or kale as the vegetable base and add in fruits such as raspberries, strawberries or avocado, which are low in sugar and high in antioxidants.

Smoothies are also a great way to add supplements or superfoods such as chia seeds or cacao powder to your diet. Give it a try and comment below with the results of your homemade experiments! 

CHOOSE: Avocado on toast

LOSE: Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich

avocado on toast as healthy food swap by baraa el sabbagh dietitian, personal trainer, sports nutritionist in dubai

Ah, yes the childhood memories associated with a classic PB&J sandwich are countless! But the calories don’t have to be. Smearing a creamy avocado on your toast is just as delicious, and topping it off with pumpkin seeds or even fresh halloumi cheese ensures you get an adequate amount of protein as well. 

While there is that classic aura of peanut butter and jelly, the lure of a healthier swap with just half of an avocado is much more!  Store bought peanut butter and jelly is full of processed oils, high in fructose syrup and other hidden sugar and preservatives.

Avocados, however have more fiber and potassium and less sugar, carbs and fat than peanut butter and jelly. The fiber also means you’ll stay full longer! Not all peanut butter is created equal though. If you’d still prefer your toast the old fashioned way with PB&J, I’d recommend taking a look at this 3-ingredient peanut butter recipe for a more natural, homemade version. Instead of jam, why not top it with a freshly sliced banana and some cinnamon?


What I’ve realized by making these small changes in my diet is that you don’t have to be a raw foodie, vegan, or a believer of the cleansing dogma to want to make these swaps. You could be a person who loves food (like me) and is looking to become healthier and find an easier way to incorporate superfoods such as fruits and vegetables into your diet to benefit from their nutrient value, as well as cut out unnecessary calories to look and feel better.


Umama Ahmed

Certified Health Coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition

Ran a cold-pressed juice startup in Karachi; Works with spreading awareness about easy ways to incorporate healthy eating into your daily life

Find her on Instagram: Earthkitchenpk 


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