Five Food Swaps for Better Nutrition Print

QR77 radioListen to my monthly radio program with Angela Kokott, host of Calgary Today for our segment, “You are what you eat” to get the goods on healthy eating.

Listen to episode 65 part one “Five Food Swaps for Better Nutrition” here:


Listen to episode 65 part two “Five Food Swaps for Better Nutrition” here:


Some of the best changes you can make when it comes to healthier eating are food swaps that can help you just get more nutritional bang for the food you are consuming. Here are five food swaps to try:

1. Liquid oils over butter/coconut oil.

Liquid oils such as olive oil, canola oil or avocado oil are heart healthy options rich in unsaturated fats.   Go the Italian way and dip your bread into olive oil and balsamic vinegar instead of adding butter. When I am baking items such as muffins or even birthday cake I look for recipes that use oil since this is the best fat for your heart.

Coconut oil is all the rage lately but this is not a fat you should be trying to increase in your diet. Coconut oil (which is solid at room temperature) contains a high level of saturated fats (more than butter).  One positive note is that some of the saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, a medium fatty acid that may have a more neutral role on heart health and blood cholesterol levels.  Lauric acid can raise both the good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol levels while other saturated fats can raise LDL levels with no effect on HDL levels.  Also note that hydrogenated coconut oils would not be recommended since they contain trans fats. If you are consuming a coconut oil choose virgin coconut oil and eat this in moderation. The health benefits of olive oil and other liquid plant oils trumps coconut oil.

2. Plain Greek yogurt over sour cream.

If you are looking for the same creamy texture of sour cream but more protein and less fat try a plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. This works great on baked potatoes, tacos or for vegetable dips.

3. Dense veggies & dark green leafy salads over light colored lettuce.

The darker the lettuce the more nutrient rich your salad greens will be. Choose kale, spinach, collard greens, arugula and other darker leaf lettuces to get more beta-carotene, vitamin C, calcium, iron and phytonutrients for your health. Also consider adding dense veggies to your salads such as tomatoes, cauliflower, grated carrots and peppers that also pack a nutritional punch.

4. Vending machine nuts over potato chips.

If you are looking for a savory snack go for the nuts over potato chips since they offer extra protein for satiety along with vitamins, minerals, fibre and healthy fats. The key with nuts is managing a reasonable portion size which single serving vending machine bags help with.

5. Oatmeal with a kick over instant sweetened oatmeal.

Fruit and OatmealIf you love oatmeal in the morning but have been relying on instant packages try cooking oatmeal for the week in a pot on the stove with regular rolled oats or steel cut oats and portioning into containers to take and reheat. Enhance the nutrition further by tossing in chia seeds which add calcium, hemp hearts which add protein and ground flax seeds which add omega-3 fats. Toss in frozen or fresh berries, chopped dried fruit and sliced nuts for more nutrition. Sweeten yourself with a pinch of brown sugar or maple syrup rather than relying on the manufacturer who simply adds more than needed.

BONUS Fun tip!

6. Chocolate bar over packaged energy bars.

As the chocoholic nutritionist you might think that I might recommend a cocoa flavored energy bar instead of a chocolate bar.   Many commercial energy bars have similar amounts of calories and fat to a chocolate bar and simply put they just don’t taste as good. If you are selecting an energy bar for a sweet treat you may be better off and more satisfied but eating what it is that you are truly craving. Otherwise you may find yourself chewing around a craving (eating a bunch of “chocolate-want-to-be” foods and then eating the chocolate anyways).

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About Andrea Holwegner

CEO, Registered Dietitian, Counseling Practice Director & Professional Speaker

Andrea the «Chocoholic Nutritionist» is founder and CEO of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. since 2000. She is an online nutrition course creator, professional speaker and regular guest in the media. Andrea is the recipient of an award by the Dietitians of Canada: The Speaking of Food & Healthy Living Award for Excellence in Consumer Education....Read more

Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. Andrea and her team really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Andrea is an excellent teacher and motivator. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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