Ingredient Swaps for a Healthier Diet
It’s important to remember that a healthy diet should be a balanced diet. There are reasons that our body needs an intake of things like fat and carbohydrates (in moderation!). Dieting can be easier than you think and here we give some advice on ingredient swaps to make your diet a healthier one.
Swap Carbohydrates for Wholegrains
Carbohydrates have been given a bad name and are often blamed for causing weight gain. Some diets suggest that, by cutting out carbs altogether, you can shed the pounds and be slimmer than ever. However, this is not quite the case and carbohydrates should, in fact, form part of any healthy diet. This is because carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy, so cutting them out altogether can make you feel tired and lethargic.
You can still be healthy and eat carbohydrates by simply switching to wholemeal and wholewheat carbs. These are much healthier for you than white bread or pasta, as they contain a much higher level of fibre. Not only does fibre leave you with a longer lasting feeling of fullness, but it is excellent for your digestive system. This is also true of brown rice, which is a healthy source of energy and wholegrains can lower the risk of certain heart diseases and cancer. There are lots of great rice varieties that are worth trying, including wild rice.
Salt is unhealthy for your diet when eaten in larger amounts. The guidelines recommend that we don’t have any more than 6g of salt per day.
Salt is hard to avoid and can be difficult to quantify in food, so many of us end up consuming at least 8g of salt every day. This is because salt, as a natural preservative, is found in a lot of processed foods that we eat. That’s not to say that all ready-made food is bad for you, but you should always check the packaging before feeding these products to yourself, your family or friends.
A simple way to swap this out of your diet is to cook from scratch so you can control how much salt is in your food. Herbs, spices and cheese will limit the amount of salt needed.
Swapping Fat in Your Diet
Although some people think that fat needs to be cut out of your diet altogether if you want to lose weight, not all fats are bad for you. Fat can actually be an essential nutrient and part of your diet, as long as it isn’t saturated fat. This is the bad fat that’s not good for our heart and cholesterol level if eaten in excess. However, there are plenty of ways that you can cut down on saturated fat in your diet and still eat healthily.
Yoghurt is a great substitute for cream and cheese in many recipes, and it contains much less saturated fat. Opting for skimmed or semi-skimmed milk instead of full-fat is also a simple ingredient swap.
Reducing the Sugar
Sugar is something that we find a lot of in the average, 21st-century diet, as it is present in a lot of processed foods. It is often used because it’s a cheap way to add flavour and sweetness, but too much sugar in your diet can cause weight gain and increase the risk of diabetes, dental problems and countless other health problems.
If you drink carbonated drinks then an easy way to cut down on the sugar is to drink flavoured water instead. Cutting out desserts and sweets from your diet is also a sure way to reduce your sugar intake. A good swap is to eat fresh fruit instead, as this contains natural sugars instead of the added refined stuff and is much healthier.