Healthy Swaps for a Healthy Year

By Michelle Leatherwood

How to switch to a clean diet

Choosing to be “healthier” in 2024 probably feels a bit overwhelming — where to begin, which diet is right, does it even taste good, how hard will it be and where should you get good-for-you foods? The simple truth is, the more natural it is, the better it is for your body. Finding small ways to sub out highly processed food for better-quality ingredients goes so far! Locally, we have access to many great farms and some fantastic in town options, too.

Still stressed? Let’s start with the WHY behind the WHAT. 

The goal.

To eat a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet based on eating a variety of quality meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices and healthy fats. These foods improve health by providing balanced and complete nutrition while avoiding most processed and refined foods and empty calories. Each family has different dietary needs so choose what is best for you, but the goal is to have a nutrient-dense diet that fuels the body, brain, heart, organs and nervous system. 

Why we make the effort.

Our bodies are designed to perform beautifully, to bring life into this world, to digest, to rest, to grow and to heal. We can help our bodies by fueling them properly and with plenty of good.

But how?

We’ve compiled just a few ideas to get you started. There are many other healthy food swaps you can make. The important thing is to find swaps you enjoy and that fit into your lifestyle.

Here are simple suggestions:

  • Read food labels carefully. An easy rule of thumb we try to live by: Can’t pronounce it? Can’t digest it.  
  • Avoid processed seed oils as much as possible. They disrupt digestion and hormone balance. (Ex: cottonseed oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, canola oil, sunflower seed oil, etc.) 
  • Make small changes such as switch out that name brand peanut butter for an organic variation. Do what feels attainable and is simple enough.  
  • Stock your kitchen with the foods you WANT in your body and your family. This will make it easier to make healthy choices. 
  • Cook more meals at home. This gives you minimal ingredients in your food and provides a more nutrient-dense meal. Make snacks ahead for on the go and make it fun! Include the family in meal prepping and ideas the kids have for food. We make muffins and brownies every week — they’re just whole food versions of what they see in the store. All my friends know I love to sneak in some collagen into every baked good and smoothie we make. 
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment. There are endless possibilities when it comes to healthy food swaps and trying out a new way of eating to see how your body responds. Every body is unique. 
  • Local places to source from: 
    I have a personal list of what we get at each store in Waco that I reference every week. Plus, there are a few farms that deliver to your door and are at the farmers market on Saturdays. You can Google local farms and email them to see what they are currently offering.

  • Waco Downtown Farmers Market keeps growing with amazing vendors in town and nearby areas and farms. You can shop organic veggies, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised eggs from a regenerative farm, microgreens, sourdough goodies, tasty local food and much more. Visit the Bridge Street Farmers Market Wednesday evenings during the spring and fall. 
  • Jubilee Market on 19th St. is a great place to stop by for local veggies and Mill-King products. 
  • Mill-King Farm offers delivery, or you can go to their McGregor farm to get raw and fresh milk of your choice. They have meat, eggs and specialty items for sale in their country store as well. 
  • Chapultepec Farm offers a newsletter sign-up so you can stay updated. Farmer John and his family are at the farmers market and offer delivery.  
  • Homestead Market is more of a full day family outing but certainly worth the stop. 
  • Natural Grocers in Temple might require a day trip, but it has an abundance of good options. 
  • Vitamins Plus inside of Drug Emporium is like a mini Whole Foods. They have local farm options and cater to every diet and preferences. You can always request a brand or product too. 
  • ALDI has good produce and many organic options at a reasonable price. 
  • H-E-B partners with local Texas farms. Look for signs and labels that direct you to those products.  
  • There are so many ways to integrate health, food and family. I hope this new year you discover more of what feels supportive and enjoyable in your health journey. Cheers to filling up with the good!