WEEK 40 – SMART SWAPS
Improving your health could be as simple as a few tiny tweaks to your diet. This week we are sharing 15 healthy food swaps you can easily make.
Remember small changes can add up to make a big overall difference to your diet.
Swap white pasta for whole wheat
If pasta forms a staple part of your diet, don’t despair – there’s no need to ditch it altogether. “Whole wheat pasta is higher in fibre, and contains more vitamin E, B vitamins and antioxidants than white, Another smart option is ‘COURGETTI’ spiralised courgette) or ‘boodles’ (pasta made from butternut squash) to boost your vegetable intake. But remember, carbs are important, so don’t make them the enemy.
Swap plain jacket potatoes for sweet potatoes
It’s an easy, cheap and tasty meal, but there’s a way to make baked potatoes healthier, too. “Eating sweet potatoes means you’re still getting those essential carbs, but this way they count as one of your five-a-day, unlike regular potatoes which are a starchy food, Just make sure you keep the skin on when cooking them for that extra boost of fibre.
Swap white rice for brown or ‘cauli-rice’
There’s nothing wrong with white rice, but brown rice is better for you because it has more fibre than white. Cauliflower rice is another great option if you want to reduce calorie intake and up your veg count, too. (Plus, packets are available in most supermarkets for around £1.50 if you’re too short on time to make your own.)
Make your own porridge oats instead of pre-packed versions, or granola
When we’re in a rush it’s tempting to When you can make your own porridge, you’re in control of what’s going into it – whether you have it with milk or water, and how much else you’re adding – like nuts, fruit or honey. Pre-packaged options often include higher levels of salt, sugars and flavours which are better to avoid if you can. Similarly, granola often has added sugar which can detract from the health benefits of the original ingredients.
Swap white bread for rye or wholemeal
Wholemeal, rye or seeded bread is much better for you than white, thanks to the high fibre levels. The way wholemeal or rye breads are digested also means that the sugar, which turns into energy, is released into the bloodstream much more slowly than in white bread, too.
Swap shop-bought salad dressing for homemade
Making your own salad dressing might sound like a faff, but the reality is it takes just a few minutes and most are far healthier (a non-creamy version keeps for a couple of weeks in the fridge, too). If you make your own dressing, it’s much easier to manage what’s going into it. A base of olive oil and vinegar is tasty, and you can add whatever you like to mix it up or add more nutrients – anything from garlic and lemon, to seeds, nuts and herbs. Vinegar or lemon dressings are healthier than creamy shop-bought dressings which can be high in fat and calories, with little nutritional value.A homemade French dressing needs just a few ingredients – olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, and salt and pepper – easy!
Swap low-fat yogurt for Greek
Tweaking your choice of yogurt can have big nutritional benefits. Greek yogurt is naturally lower in fat and sugar than most regular yogurts, and some brands have extra protein too, which will keep you fuller for longer. Avoid low-fat, flavoured yogurts – they tend to contain a lot of added sugars and flavours. Instead, opt for a plain version and add a few nuts or fruit and a bit of honey, if you like it sweeter.
Swap butter for olive oil margarine
An olive oil-based spread is healthier than butter, because it’s a healthy unsaturated fat, Butter is a saturated fat which can increase our ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, so if you love slathering it on your toast every morning, it might be worth buying an olive oil margarine to use now and then, too.
Swap crisps for popcorn
Popcorn sounds like a junk food, but it’s actually a healthier option to crisps. Popcorn is wholegrain and lower in fat than crisps, but because it’s so light, it’s really easy to eat a lot quite quickly – so be careful! Try to avoid adding extras like huge doses of salt or sugar, as these additions can quickly detract from the benefit of switching in the first place.
Swap pork sausages for chicken sausages
Chicken sausages tend to be lower in saturated fat than pork, and they’re a smart way of lowering your intake of red meat. Research has shown that a higher intake of red meat can be linked with certain types of cancers and cardiovascular diseases, so if you’re eating them on a regular basis, try chicken sausages too (Heck’s cost around £2 in supermarkets).
Swap cheddar for cottage or goat’s cheese
Love cheddar? Try adding a little variation. I’d always go for a softer cheese – cottage cheese, crème fraîche and quark are all great sources of calcium that aren’t too high in fat. Hard cheese, like cheddar, is high in fat and calories, so it’s important to keep an eye on how much of it you’re eating.
Swap fried eggs for boiled or poached
A weekend breakfast wouldn’t be the same without eggs, but you can make them healthier by ditching the butter or oil. If you have a good non-stick pan, you can actually dry-fry eggs. It’s the oil or butter in the pan that makes the difference, so try that, or stick to poaching or boiling for breakfast.
Vickie got her fab five and her first stone award at Hyde
Angela got slimmer of the week at Levenshulme
Slimmer of the week went to Janet at Denton
Slummer of the week went to Ann Marie at Didsbury