If you are a regular reader of these blogs you’ll know that your progress and success is generally determined more by your nutrition than your exercise. This doesn’t mean you need to completely redesign your food intake though. So to help I’ve decided to write about some food swaps you can use to switch to healthier alternatives.
Obviously if there is any part of your nutrition that you can get in a lower fat content (e.g. diet, low-fat, fat free etc.) then you should probably look to swap to that food. What I’m really talking about though is actual alternative food stuffs – not just, “if you’re eating full-fat cheese, try switching to low-fat cheese”. Trust me, I wouldn’t want to insult your intelligence.
Now clearly the number of things you can change depend upon whether or not you actually eat the foods I’m going to be talking about. For that reason I’m going to assume due to the fact you are reading this blog means that you already eat some of the right sort of stuff anyway, and I’ll therefore discuss mainly popular food items. So after all that preamble, here it goes.
- Cereals & Grains
When it comes to grains the one thing to remember is WHOLE. If you’re eating white bread and pasta, switch to their wholemeal cousins. In fact, whatever the grain you are eating is, always try and find it made with wholegrain, wholemeal, wholewheat etc. With pasta specifically, there is little point in eating wholemeal if you are just going to cover it in a creamy sauce, so try and use tomato or vegetable based sauces instead. As for cereal, a lot of the famous branded cereals may be wholegrain but they are usually covered in chocolate or sugar. If you just can’t live without cereal, porridge is probably the most suitable alernative – oats are healthy and full of quality nutrients.
- Meat & Fish
Well if the word to look out for with grains is whole, then the word you need to think of with meat is LEAN. The leaner the better, as long as you remember that and to cut off any external fat, you really can’t go far wrong. When it comes to fish just try not to have it breaded/battered, get it as close to on the bone as you can. Oh, and frozen or fresh is fine. If it is canned fish you enjoy (tuna, sardines, mackerel etc.) try to get it in water rather than in oil. Meat or fish, avoid them processed at any cost!
If you’re snacking because you crave sugar then fruit is the answer. It’s much better to get the natural sugars you find in fruits than to eat sweets or chocolate. But if you snack for energy (because you are hungry) then nuts can be a good alternative. Be careful though, nuts can be high in fat so make sure you read the labels and decide your portions accordingly. Try to avoid salted nuts as well!
You could always try using these 1-cal spray oils, but from my experience they are pretty horrendous. With oil it is often better to just reduce not replace. Vegetable oil and olive oil are both nice, but make sure you are trying to use less when you cook, and try to bake food in the oven, rather than fry it.
Of course there are more alternatives, but it would be impossible to include them all, so here are a few of my favourites:
- Kale or spinach (leafy-green veg) instead of iceberg lettuce – while lettuce is absolutely fine it is mostly water, leafy-green vegetables will provide far more nutrients
- Freshly squeezed juices instead of processed juice from concentrate
- Yogurt instead of sour cream (or frozen yogurt in place of ice cream)
- You can even try almond or soy milk instead of semi-skimmed, but personally I can’t get along with them
- Fish, chicken (breast) and turkey instead of red meats