Healthy food swaps that taste good too

Healthy food swaps

By Simone Austin Advanced Sports Dietitian

There is always some new fad about what we should be eating more or less of. You have probably tried food swapping to ‘make your diet healthier,’ only to find the swap tasteless and boring so you revert back to the way you ate before. Does this sound familiar? Well it doesn’t have to be that way.

Depending on what are you looking to increase or decrease in your diet food swaps might be the answer to achieve your goals, without needing to diet (as we know diets don’t work, otherwise a new one wouldn’t pop up every week) or eat food that is so bland you would rather eat cardboard!

Let’s have a look at some of the common areas where food swaps could help improve your health.

Increase protein

It is best to spread protein intake out over the day research shows, so rather than a big hefty piece of meat at the evening meal try a smaller portion and increase protein at other meal and snack times with these food swaps.

  • Try adding edamame beans added to your salad at lunchtime rather than croutons or mayonnaise. ¼ cup will give you around 5grams of protein. This is nearly as much as a medium sized egg that has 6 grams of protein.
  • Instead of the jam at breakfast time what about baked beans? These will add 12 grams of protein in one small can and we are aiming for around 20grams per meal.
  • Enjoy Rokeby Farms Breakfast Smoothie instead of cordial or sports drink after exercise. It will give you a whopping 30grams of protein in one 425ml bottle

Increase fibre

Fibre is known for it’s benefit to help keep your bowels regular but we also know now how important it is for feeding your gut bacteria that lead to so many health benefits. To boost your fibre intake it can be very easy.

  • Instead of peeling your fruit, juicing or eating canned eat the whole fresh fruit- leaving the skin on where you can, even kiwifruit simply wash a little of the fur off the skin!
  • Toss on a teaspoon of seeds to your breakfast cereal for flavour rather than a teaspoon of sugar- chia, pumpkin, seseame seeds. They also boost micronutrient levels such as selenium and magnesium.
  • How about making your own popcorn for movie time at home instead of bags of chips. 2 cups has 4grams of protein which is not a bad contribution to the 30grams aim for the day.
  • Swap out some meat from your curry and add in a can of brown lentils or chickpeas. Unlike animal protein plant sources of protein contain dietary fibre.

Increase healthy fats

We use to avoid fat in the diet looking for low fat everything. Now we are wiser and know to focus on the quality of fat. Our body needs fat, it helps with the absorption of fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A,D,E and K. It also makes foods such as vegetables taste great and we defiantly need to eat more of those, 93% of Australians don’t eat enough of them!  Try swapping :

  • Change blended vegetable oils for fresh, locally grown extra virgin olive oil for all of your cooking, even at high temperature- drizzle it on your salads and when frying or baking vegetables to bring the flavour alive!
  • Try ricotta and cottage cheese with some salsa added for a great dip instead of cream cheese based dips.
  • Avocado on toast over margarines and butter
  • A handful of nuts each afternoon instead of grabbing for the biscuit barrel
  • Cheese with wholegrain bread instead of crackers. The oil used in many crackers is blended vegetable oil and good news, we have the support of the Heart Foundation that the fat in cheese (milk and yoghurt) does not increase your risk of heart disease!

To Reduce sugar

Swap out large glasses of juice and soft drink:

We all know that soft drink has too much sugar in it. Did you know that a 250ml glass of fruit juice often has about the same sugar as soft drink- 10% sugar. That is 5 teaspoons of sugar in one 250ml glass of juice. Even though the juice offers vitamins and minerals in, large glasses can quickly increase your total sugar intake for the day and are not the way to get your fruit intake in for most of us! Enjoy instead:

  • A small ½ glass pure juice preferably with pulp (125ml)
  • Water- plain, soda, natural mineral, with a slice of lemon or fresh herbs. A strawberry cut and placed on the side of the glass will make the water taste delicious simply from the smell of the strawberry, as smell makes up part of your taste.
  • Plain milk, although milk has some sugar ~6%, naturally in it as lactose, the most important aspect is milk as a whole food, is bursting with valuable nutrients such as protein and calcium.
  • Rokeby Farms Breakfast Smoothie is a delicious snack and after exercise recovery drink with 7% sugar (some from the lactose that has been broken down with the lactase enzyme, making it suitable for those needing low lactose,) with a small amount of cane sugar added. It has the bonus of being higher in protein than standard milk- 7% protein per 100ml compared to 5% in standard full cream milk.

It is not hard to make a few changes to our diet when we don’t do a complete overhaul. See what you can swap around and see the difference it can make.

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