Your diet has a huge impact on your present and future health but it can be overwhelming amongst the myriad of nutrition information to know where to start. One of the best ways to reap the benefits of a healthy diet is to start making healthy food swaps.
Just by making small, consistent changes like the ones listed below will result in a dramatic improvement in your current and long term health, both for you and your children.
Inspired by the Australian Government Campaign – Swap It, Don’t Stop It, I’ve put together some healthy food swap ideas to help feed both you and your family healthier, more wholesome food.
1. Swap butter or margarine for avocado or hummus.
Making this food swap will boost your intake of healthy fats, decrease your intake of bad fats and help decrease your overall energy intake which is great if you’re losing weight.
2. Swap processed meats (devon, salami, chicken roll etc) for shaved chicken breast or 97% fat free ham.
Processed meets can be high in saturated fat (bad fat) and salt (sodium). Too much of both these nutrients can lead to poor health. When choosing deli meat to put in your sandwich shaved breast chicken and 97% fat free ham are the best choices.
3. Swap beef sausages for kanga bangas
With summer just around the corner, BBQ season is coming back into full swing. The number of sausages that we consume over this time can be scary. Rather than missing out on the fun times that BBQs bring, try using kangaroo sausages instead (kanga bangas). They are much lower in fat, salt and kilojoules but just as tasty. Other great sausage swaps are breast chicken marinated in lemon juice and herbs or a small piece of lean steak.
4. Swap cake and ice-cream for fruit salad and yoghurt
Summer for me means entertaining guests, the only times when I bother making dessert. Instead of serving up cake and ice-cream which is packed full of empty kilojoules (lots of energy but very little nutrients) why not serve up a fresh, seasonal fruit salad with a dollop of good quality yoghurt. All the enjoyment and no guilt!
5. Swap coffee or tea for herbal tea
Caffeine in excessive amounts can be very detrimental to your health and well-being. If you are drinking too much tea or coffee throughout the day, consider swapping a few of them to a herbal tea. Herbal teas come in all kinds of great flavours and they are caffeine and kilojoule free. I also find that drinking herbal teas also helps me ensure that I’m drinking enough water throughout the day.
6. Swap soft-drink or alcoholic beverages for sparkling mineral water
Soft drinks are just sugar water and alcoholic drinks are even worse. It’s OK to have them every now and then but if you’re losing weight you’ll want to ditch this little habit for good if you want to be successful. So if you feel like you’re not missing out, try sparkling mineral water instead. It’s fizzy, has a nice flavour and if you put it in a champagne glass with a fresh strawberry you’ll feel just as special!
7. Swap sugar on your cereal for frozen berries or pureed fruit
Berries and fruit will sweeten your breakfast just like sugar will but they’ll also add a nice hit of vitamins and antioxidants.
8. Swap white pasta, rice or cous cous for wholemeal pasta, brown rice and wholewheat cous cous
White pastas, rice and cous cous are extremely low in fibre due to the high amount of processing they undergo. Fibre is vital to a healthy digestive system so making these swaps will have incredible health benefits. A high fibre diet will help you lose weight, aid in decreasing your cholesterol and keep your bowels moving.
9. Swap potato for sweet potato
Sweet potato has a lower GI (glycemic index) than regular potato so will help keep your blood sugar levels and your appetite under control. It also contains much more nutrition with 200g of sweet potato providing more than your body’s daily needs for vitamin A. Try sweet potato mash, sweet potato chips, sweet potato sliced and BBQ’d or roasted in the oven.
10. Swap crackers and chips for vegetable sticks
Instead of serving up dip and crackers try using chopped fresh vegetables with your dip instead. Carrots, celery, capsicum, beans and snow peas are all fantastic raw and dipped in hummus or herbed natural yoghurt.
11. Swap creamy pasta sauce for tomato based pasta sauce
Packed full of fat and kilojoules, dishes that use cream or coconut milk or cream can easily make weight loss very difficult to achieve. Swapping to a tomato based sauce dramatically reduces the kilojoules in a dish making weight loss much more of a reality if it’s combined with a healthy eating plan.
12. Swap lamb chops for white fish
You should aim to eat 1-2 serves of fish per week. It will not only help boost your intake of omega 3 (essential fatty acids) but if you serve it instead of high fat cuts of meat such as chops or ribs than you’ll decrease your energy intake and your saturated fat intake as well.
What healthy swaps have you made for your family? Tips like these are great to hear from other mums. Share your swaps here for other mums to try.