Want to be healthier without completely changing your diet? Try making a few simple swaps to your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks that not only add to your recommended daily vegetable and fruit portions, but also cut down on calories and add extra fibre, vitamins, omega 3 fats and protein to your diet.
Instead of sprinkling sugar on your breakfast porridge or cereal, try adding a handful of berries, which will not only sweeten the cereal but also add vitamins, fibre and phytonutrients. If you have a sugary cereal try swapping it for a no sugar whole grain cereal or plain porridge adding fruit and nuts to give it sweetness and a flavour boost. If you like a full fry up type breakfast, try poaching your egg, grilling the bacon and tomatoes, and add some reduced salt and sugar baked beans. This will lower the saturated fat, sugar, salt and calories in your meal. You could swap your fruit juice for some healthy chopped fresh fruit, no matter how much fruit juice you drink in one day it will only count as one portion of your recommended daily amount and also the fruit sugars in the whole fruit are less damaging to your teeth.
If you make a sandwich for lunch, instead of mayo try spreading with a mashed avocado mixed with a little lemon juice and fresh chopped herbs, it’s just as creamy but full of good fats and vitamin C. What about adding some chopped nuts and seeds instead of croutons on your soup or salad, again full of vitamins and will add some protein value to your lunch. When having starchy carbohydrates, try swapping white pasta, rice and bread for whole grain. Whole grain is full of fibre, will make you feel fuller for longer and therefore keep your blood sugar levels stable. Try swapping a meat option with beans or pulses, to cut down on the saturated fat in your protein option. A can of salmon would be better for you than a can of tuna, as the canning process removes the heart healthy omega fats in the tuna but it remains in the salmon and oily fish is an important food to be included in your diet.
Another good swap is mashed sweet potatoes, carrots, celeriac, parsnip, in fact any mix of root vegetables instead of mashed potatoes as they don’t count as one of your daily portions. And try making sweet potato wedges, instead of the usual fries, the sweet potatoes contain beta carotene which converts to vitamin A in your body and again counts as one of your vegetable portions.
By swapping breadcrumbs for ground almonds, they are perfect for coating chicken, binding together meatballs and burgers, and they are rich in zinc, fibre and iron. When making sauces for meals try replacing creamy ones with vegetable based ones and you can even add a grated carrot or courgette to the sauce to bump up your vegetable quota.
Oat cakes spread with no added sugar nut butter make a delicious healthy snack providing protein and fibre which will keep you fuller longer. Frozen bananas whizzed up, will make a good creamy, low fat, potassium rich pudding, and add chopped nuts or a square of chopped dark (high cocoa content) chocolate, and you have a low calorie but satisfying ice cream substitute.
Try swapping that chocolate cookie for a Medjool date or two, they are packed with natural sugars, potassium, dietary fibre and are great for curbing sugar cravings, the high fibre content keep you feeling fuller longer, and 2 dates count as one portion of your recommended daily portions.
A handful of nuts, not salted, will keep your going longer than a chocolate bar, and so much healthier. Try some carrot batons dipped in humour, again a healthier more nutritional snack.
How about swapping your meal portion size for a smaller one, people often fill their plate with the intention of eating it all, without acknowledging that actually a much smaller portion may be sufficient. If you’re still hungry, you can always go back for a little more, probably that the first portion was enough to fill you up.
But if you think that swapping honey, maple syrup, agave sugar, coconut sugar or other sugar alternatives for your normal sugar, is healthier then you’d be wrong. These natural sugars are still sugars and therefore contain the same number of calories per gram as white sugar. They are made of the same components, sucrose, fructose and glucose and although they contain other nutrients such as iron and potassium any health benefits would only be gained by consuming excessive amounts. Too much of any kind of sugar increases the risk of tooth decay and adds excess calories to your diet. So it’s better to try to cut down on sugar not swap it for another kind.
If you need anymore ideas for healthy food swaps, speak to your personal trainer who will advise you on a healthier diet.