Easy, healthy food swaps
A few clever changes can go a long way in making your diet lighter and more nutritious. Here are some easy ways to switch things up.
Carbohydrates and fibre
Good quality carbohydrates are a vital part of a balanced diet, providing one of the body’s main sources of energy. A simple switch from white to wholegrain is a great way to up your dietary fibre intake, plus keep you feeling full for longer.
- White pasta
- White bread
- White rice
- Cereal (processed and packaged)
- Buckwheat pasta or wholemeal pasta
- Wholegrain bread or sourdough
- Brown rice
Why do you need fibre?
Eating high fibre foods can help lower the risk of heart disease, bowel cancer, type 2 diabetes and obesity. It also keeps you regular.
Protein is like the royalty of food groups – it makes us strong. Protein is vital for muscle repair and cell growth. It's essential for growing kids and teenagers, and for pregnant women.
- Salami and ham (processed meat)
- Battered fish
- Fried eggs
- Tinned kidney beans and chickpeas
- Chicken or turkey (lean meat)
- Grilled fish
- Boiled eggs
- Dried kidney beans or chickpeas (soaked)
Baked or boiled proteins are much better for you than fried. Using the oven or grill, rather than the fry pan, requires less added fat and helps the food retain its nutrients.
Fat often gets a bad rap, but it’s essential to our wellbeing – the trick is focusing on the right kind of fats. Healthy fats help our bodies absorb nutrients, produce hormones, grow cells and stay energised. On the flipside, saturated fats and trans fats can lead to weight gain, heart disease and high cholesterol.
- Cheddar cheese
- Sour cream
- Peanut butter
- Avocado mash or olive oil
- Greek yogurt
- Goat's cheese
- Ricotta or cottage cheese
Super easy, super delicious swaps
Baked potato for baked sweet potato
Unlike white potatoes, sweet potatoes have a low glycaemic index (GI), which means they take longer to digest, keep blood sugar levels low and leave you feeling full for longer. They also give you a higher dose of fibre. Next time baked potatoes are on the menu, try the sweet ones for a change. (Don’t disregard white ones completely though – they still have plenty of good stuff too!)
Potato chips for kale chips
Homemade kale chips are way better for you than packet chips, and some say they even taste better. Grab a baking tray, throw on some torn kale leaves, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt (and spices if you like) and put in the oven for about 10 minutes or until crisp. Trust us, you’ll never look back.
Tortilla wraps for lettuce leaves
Fresh, crispy lettuce leaves couple perfectly with hot-steamy bean sauce. Lettuce wraps are a great way to sneak in some greens while enjoying a little extra crunch. Think of it as a Mexican san choy bau.
Salad croutons for nuts
There’s nothing like a bit of texture to jazz up a salad. To get your healthy fats (and lose the saturated ones) try roasted almonds or pecans in place of croutons.
Packet pasta for zucchini ribbons
Thin zucchini ribbons are a great change from regular packet pastas. Not only do you get your greens-hit, but you can even skip the cooking and eat them raw. We recommend getting a spiraliser to make them – you can buy one cheaply, and it’s so easy to use.
Soft drink for fruit-infused water
Still or sparkling water loaded up with fresh mint and strawberries gets our vote over soft drink any day. Make up your own fruity combinations and store in the fridge for those sweltering hot days.
Chocolate for cacao
Cacao is actually chocolate in its rawest form, so it has no added sugar and is super high in antioxidants. Add a few teaspoons of cacao powder to a hot cup of milk and voila – hot chocolate. For those who need a little sweetness, add a dollop of maple syrup or honey.
Accredited Practicing Dietitian Dr Anthony Villani explains...Read more
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