Cereal boxes
French fries

What do these all have in common??

1) They are really high in glycemic index.

Glycemic index measures how quickly blood sugar levels rise after eating a certain food. The higher the measure, the quicker the food breaks down into sugar in the blood. And the bigger the spike in insulin.

It’s downhill from there, too; this insulin spike is what causes the proceeding low blood sugar crash, and cravings for more processed, high glycemic foods. Also, because our bodies can only store so much glucose in our liver and muscles, the excess blood sugar ends up getting stored… as FAT.

2) On a scale of nutrient density, these rank low. 

Most of these foods are highly processed and stripped of nutrients. If we’re looking how much nutritional bang for our buck we can get, these foods would rank REALLY low. Pretty powerful view, considering most of these foods are cheap. Cheap food = cheap nutrition, though.

3) They’re acidic and steal nutrients from the body. 

Our bodies like to hang out at around a 7.35 on the pH scale, which is slightly alkaline, or basic. The standard American diet delivers a huge amount of acid between all the dairy, meat, sugar and grains we eat, forcing our bodies to work very hard to maintain this slightly basic pH.

How does it do this?

By tapping into our mineral stores and bones (a.k.a. stealing nutrients) in order to buffer the acidity.

The result?

Weaker bones (even osteoporosis!) and depleted bodies.

The good news? There are loads of creative ways to replace these nutrient-poor, depleting foods with more nutritious, whole foods versions.

Check out these substitutions that are high in taste and health!

Substitutions 1Substitutions 2

1) Garlic Rosemary Turnip Fries for French Fries

Have you seen the ingredients in McDonald’s French fries?

Potatoes, canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, safflower oil, natural flavour (vegetable source), dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate (maintain colour), citric acid (preservative), dimethylpolysiloxane (antifoaming agent) and cooked in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with THBQ, citric acid and dimethylpolysiloxane).

Toxic, toxic, toxic. Oh, and where it says “cooked in vegetable oil,” it fails to mention that it can be cooked in the same vegetable oil used upwards of 1.5 WEEKS.

Disturbing and nasty.

Not only are turnips MUCH lower in glycemic index, they deliver real nutrients – like vitamin C! These “turnip fries” are easy to make and highly delicious.

  • Cut into small strips and place on a cookie sheet
  • Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle sea salt, rosemary and garlic powder
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 20 – 30 minutes, or until desired crispness

2) Lettuce Wrap for Bread

If you’ve read my posts, you know about gluten, the main structural protein in wheat (and bread), from my posts herehere, and here.

Why not opt for an “unwich” like Jimmy John’s offers? Take a piece of delicious, crisp lettuce, and use as a wrap for your choice of meat, cheese, sprouts, and avocado and/or hummus spreads. Better yet, eat it with some turnip fries, and you’ve got yourself a healthified sandwich and fries!

3) Sweet Potatoes for Potatoes

Although potatoes are technically a whole food, they are especially high in glycemic index – similar to that of white rice and white bread.

Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are slightly higher in fiber, WAY higher in vitamin A, higher in vitamin C, and lower in total carbs.

The  best part is you can cook them in SO many ways: Boiled, broiled, mashed, sweet potato fries, soup, etc.

4) Cauliflower “Fried Rice” for Fried Rice

Rice… not only is it high in glycemic index, but the fried version involves those nasty vegetable oils.

This version of cauliflower “fried rice” is super savory, much higher in vitamin C, and detoxifying for the liver and gallbladder!

5) Spaghetti Squash for Pasta 

Sadly, the same story goes for pasta.

Spaghetti squash is seriously savory and stringy – just like pasta! It’s also MUCH lower in carbs and glycemic index, and has a decent amount of fiber and vitamin C.

How to prepare it:

  • Cut in half and scrape out the seeds and pulp
  • Bake with the rind side facing up in a glass dish at 375 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes.
  • Once finished, scoop out the cooked flesh and separate strands by running a fork through it.

6) No “Grainola” Cereal for Processed Cereal and/or Granola 

Rather than loading up on overly processed, sugary, “healthy” granola, try a whole foods, healthy version:

  • Dried fruit of choice (watch out for added sugar kinds!)
  • Sliced almonds (or your nuts of choice)
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Maybe even some organic dark chocolate chips for an occasional indulgence?

Throw it in a bowl of unsweetened almond or coconut milk, and add a dash of cinnamon, vanilla, and honey for some sweetness!

Check out this recipe and other healthy breakfast ideas here.


Your turn! What other healthy substitutions do you eat in place of these high carb, high glycemic index foods??