Eating a healthy diet can seem like an insurmountable task at times, in part because we are creatures of habit, and it can take a long time to really make or break habits (and because of this, I would not recommend trying out all of these swaps at once! One at a time is much better). If you feel like you are giving something up, you are bound to feel like you’re missing out, so instead making food swaps can be more successful, because you can focus on what you can eat, instead of what you can’t. This principle applies to any diet you might choose to embark on; focus on the healthy food you are going to eat, get excited about recipes and meals and ingredients, and you may find you have more success in sticking with the diet.
So what are easy food swaps you can make?
- Swap chocolate for dates: dates are all natural, and although they are FULL of sugar, they have been shown in medical studies to have a limited affect on blood sugar or weight – this could be because as well as providing a sugar hit, they are packed with fibre and phytonutrients. Hallawi (smaller) dates have been shown to have the most health benefits.
- Swap white bread for whole grain: when wholegrain flour is milled into white flour, at least 25 nutrients are removed, as well as loads of phytonutrients, because the process removes the parts of the grain that contains all the good stuff.
- Swap milk for almond or soy milk: Hip fracture rates are higher in populations with the greatest milk consumption, and there is a huge body of evidence building to suggest that dairy, specifically milk, is actually harmful, not beneficial for your bones (if you don’t believe me, please do your own research and check). There are loads of great milk alternatives available now, so it comes down to a matter of personal taste; I prefer almond milk, because I think it tastes nice in coffee! Friends have also recommended oat milk, and coconut milk.
- Swap salt for fresh lemon juice or vinegar: this may seem like an odd suggestion, it’s just something that’s occurred to me since I’ve been trying to eat less salt. I find the taste of lemon juice / balsamic vinegar really works well to liven up meals and as a replacement for salt. As you probably know, after many public health campaigns, eating too much salt can increase your risk of hypertension, high blood pressure and cardio-vascular disease (heart problems). Official health recommendations say you should aim for a maximum of 6g of salt a day.
- Swap white rice for quinoa: you could swap white rice for whole grain rice, which has lots more nutrients, but quinoa is always a good choice; it’s a good plant protein source at approx. 6g per 200g serving. The only difference in cooking is that quinoa needs to be rinsed in cold water before boiling.
- Swap crisps/chips for wholegrain pitta chips: you can flavour pitta chips with any number of herbs, spices, and olive oil. If you chop up a pitta bread, drizzle with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and paprika, you have a great healthy snack. You could also make a bigger batch of these to store in the cupboard, if you know you won’t be tempted to eat them all!
I hope you find these swaps helpful; although as I said, please do your own research, talk to a doctor, and figure out what is right for you.
Do you have any food swaps you have made, that you found easy? Let me know, I think I’m ready for a new one!