12 Simple Healthy Food Swaps for Picky Eaters (Without Giving Up Taste)

Written By


Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Simplehealthyfoods 1080X675 1 | 12 Simple Healthy Food Swaps For Picky Eaters (Without Giving Up Taste)

“I don’t like it.”

#SaidMostKids (and adults) who have eaten the majority of their nutrients from many of the foods on our grocery shelves.

  • Goldfish snack crackers
  • Kraft Mac & Cheese
  • Dorito’s
  • Eggo Waffles
  • Nature Valley Granola Bars
  • Yoplait Yogurt
  • Cheerios

In fact, 80% of the foods you find in your grocery store are man-made fake foods.

Foods our bodies don’t recognize naturally as “food.”

Sort of like a goat that eats paper, we CAN totally eat these foods, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they were made for our body.


You know processed foods are “not good for you,” but when they taste good and are convenient what’s the real harm?

Even if they “aren’t good for you,” everything seemingly causes cancer, diabetes, obesity nowadays (or some other health epidemic that health activists claim) anyway.

So—just like second-hand-smoking or cell phone radiation “is bad for you,” we can’t live in a bubble.

No. Perfection or living-in-bubbles is not realistic.

However, what we eat matters.

Pop question 1:What food does a plant need to thrive?

Answer: Water, sunshine and healthy soil.

Pop question 2: What fuel does a Ferrari need to go, go, go?

Answer: Premium gasoline (and some good fine tuning and regular maintenance)

What happens when you “feed” a plant gasoline? Leave it in the dark? Or plant it in de-mineralized, poor soil?

Answer: It wilts—or dies down faster.

What happens when you put unleaded or cheap gasoline in your Ferrari? Or go 10,000 miles without maintaining it?

Answer: It sputters. It spews. It tries to get by. It loses its value or lifetime “health” as a car that works for you.

So, what do you think happens when you feed your body a steady diet of man-made foods?

Foods that were created by the human brain, synthesized in a lab or extracted from some source of food and combined with other additives and chemicals to preserve its shelf life or give it a false taste?

Answer: Your body sputters. It grows limp. It wilts.

Maybe not as fast as that plant does, but without optimal fuel, you are not functioning at your optimal capacity.

The result?


Common side effects from a poor nutrient-rich diet include:

  1. Impaired gut health/gut dysfunction (bloating, constipation, gas, GERD/heartburn)
  2. Skin Breakouts
  3. Allergies/Seasonal Allergies
  4. Anxiety
  5. Blood Sugar Highs and Lows
  6. Energy “Crashes” during the day
  7. Needing Coffee to Function
  8. Insatiable Sugar or Snack/Food Cravings
  9. Getting “Hangry” Between Meals
  10. “Slow” or Stubborn Metabolism/Weight
  11. ADD/ADHD
  12. Autism spectrum disorders
  13. Lowered Performance in the Gym/Fitness and Plateaus
  14. Gout
  15. High Blood Pressure
  16. Headaches/Vertigo/Migraines
  17. Autoimmune Conditions

—Just to name a few.

Unfortunately, many people are disconnected with recognizing how food makes them feel, and chalk up many health imbalances to “genetics,” “something in the air,” or “just something I have to deal with.”

Even if we are “eating healthy,” if vast majority of our food is coming from fake foods (protein powders, fat-free yogurts, Quest Bars, cereals, whole wheat bread, 100-calorie snack packs, frozen dinners, diet sodas, packaged pastas, etc.), we are still getting the short end of the stick.


In fact, a friend of mine received a terminal brain cancer diagnosis a few years ago.

As an active outdoor trail and adventure guide, he thought he was eating healthy—subsisting off of granola bars, trail mixes, yogurts, whole grains, fruits and lean meats.

He asked his doctor if the diagnosis—or treatment of it—had anything to do with what he ate.

The doc’s reply? “Not at all. Just make sure you eat enough.”

Not long into radiation and chemo treatment, he was hooked up to a feeding tube in order to ensure he got enough “nutrition” and fuel in his body.

When the feeding tube formula arrived to his house to pour into the machine, he turned around the can’s label, only to read the names of many chemicals and ingredients he couldn’t pronounce and see the word “Nestle” listed as the manufacturer.

“A candy company supplying me with my nutrition for every day?”

Something was not right with that picture, and he chunked the cans in the garbage, resolving he would learn how to fuel himself with real food—wondering, if maybe, just maybe it may make a difference.

He began juicing vegetables, additive-free protein powder, and almond milk into his tube.

In less than one year, he was cancer free—not a trace of cancer in his brain, his bones or his body—beating the doctor’s odds that he would be a goner within a matter of months, as well as naturally conceiving his first child with his wife (another odd that the doc said would not be possible).


Transitioning to “real food” does not have to happen overnight.

But simple swaps can lead way to BIG results in your own health-saving’s bank account for years to come (i.e. your lifetime).

Before we get to the list, the first thing to do is define “real food.”

Pop question: What is real food?

Answer: If it didn’t swim in the sea, roam the earth or grow on the land, it’s not real food.

The perimeter of the grocery store is where the majority of real foods can be found.

However, there IS some good news in mind for you as well: With the resurgence of the real food “movement” in recent years (ever since processed foods came on the scene back in the early 1900’s with Nathan’s hot dogs, Aunt Jemima syrup, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Oreo’s, Crisco and Marshmallow Fluff)

12 Healthy Food Swaps

Here is my top 10 hit list of healthy food swaps for old standbys:

  1. Oldie: Goldfish Crackers
    Newbie: Simple Mill’s Cheddar Crackers 
  1. Oldie: Nature’s Valley Granola Bars
    Newbie: Primal Kitchen Bars 
  1. Oldie: Flour/Corn Tortillas
    Newbie: Coconut Flour Tortillas
  1. Oldie: Kraft Singles Cheese Slices, Laughing Cow Cheese, Horizon Cheese Sticks
    Newbie: Grass-fed Organic Cheese, (like Maple Hill Creamery, Kerrygold )
  1. Oldie: DanActive Yogurt, Yoplait, Fage Greek Yogurt
    Newbie: Grass-fed Organic Plain Full-Fat Yogurt (Maple Hill CreameryStonyfield Farms)
  1. Oldie: Dijorno Frozen Pizza
    Newbie: Capellos Frozen Pizza Crust or Simple Mills Pizza Dough 
  1. Oldie: Processed Deli Meats
    Newbie: Applegate Farms Nitrate-Free Turkey, Ham & Roast Beef
  1. Oldie: Peter Pan or Jiffy Peanut Butter
    Newbie: Jason’s Natural Classic Peanut Butter  or Almond Butter  (no sugar added)
  1. Oldie: Boxed Pasta Noodles
    Newbie: Capello’s Pasta  (or Zucchini Noodles, Spaghetti Squash)
  1. Oldie: Nature’s Valley Ranch Dressing
    Newbie: Primal Kitchen Ranch Dressing 
  1. Oldie: Lay’s Potato Chips
    Newbie: Jackson’s Honest Potato Chips 
  1. Oldie: Cinnamon Toast Crunch
    Newbie: Steve’s Cinnamon Crunch 


Bonus: 10 Healthy Homemade Recipes for Picky Eaters (to replace processed foods)

  1. Mickey Mouse Pancakes by Real Food RN
  2. Cinnamon Toast Crunch by Food, Faith & Fitness
  3. Mac & Cheese by The Holy Mess
  4. Spaghetti & Meatballs by Against All Grain
  5. Pizza Crust by Grazed & Enthused
  6. Easy Tacos by The Paleo Running Momma
  7. Sweet Potato French Fries by Tessa Domestic Diva
  8. Chicken Nuggets by The Paleo Running Momma
  9. Chocolate Pudding by Cook it Up Paleo (No avocado)
  10. Chocolate Chip Cookies by Against All Grain
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