Eat this: Ten easy food swaps that will make your diet a healthier one

And why diets do not work - according to science
Eat this: Ten easy food swaps that will make your diet a healthier one

Dieting doesn't work, but making small changes to your diet can make you healthier. 

Crash diets don't work and science agrees. A study carried out by the medical journal BMJ in 2020 analysed 22,000 overweight or obese adults who were following one of fourteen popular weight loss programmes. The study grouped the programmes into three categories: low-carbohydrate, low-fat, and moderate-macronutrient.

The results were clear. While at the six-month mark, those following low fat or low carbohydrate diets had lost about ten pounds, six months later they had mostly regained the weight. Those following a macronutrient-based diet tended to lose less weight overall. 

More and more experts agree that a moderate approach to a healthy lifestyle is the most sustainable one and that incorporating small changes into our lifestyle has the best long-term effect. 

Last year, dietician Paula Mee told Feelgood that diets just don't work. 

“Severely restricting calories doesn’t work,” she says. “It results in compensatory changes to our physiology that increase the appetite and predispose people to regain the weight they lost.”

Here are the small changes you can make to improve the nutritional content of the food that you eat.

1. Swap processed cereal for porridge

Make your daily bowl of porridge the highlight of your day.
Make your daily bowl of porridge the highlight of your day.

Eating a bowl of porridge in the morning will keep you fuller for longer. The soluble fibre found in oats has been proven to help lower cholesterol, is gentle on the tummy and is a tooth-friendly form of breakfast cereal. 

2. Swap crisps for nuts

If you have a craving for something savoury in the afternoon, go for some nuts. They contain heart-healthy, unsaturated fats, fibre and protein - just don't overdo it. A small handful is enough for a snack and choose unsalted unroasted nuts for the healthiest option. 

3. Swap milk chocolate for dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is high in cocoa solids, well known for its mineral content. The cacao plant boasts high levels of minerals such as iron, copper, magnesium, and zinc, as well as antioxidants, such as flavanols and polyphenols, that can also have health benefits. Because both dark and milk chocolate also contain cocoa butter and sugar — not so high on health benefits — it's always worth choosing the highest percentage of cocoa available. 

4. Swap white bread for brown

Brown bread is high in fibre and delivers slow-release energy. 
Brown bread is high in fibre and delivers slow-release energy. 

If you want to stay fuller for longer, reach for the wholegrain alternative to your bread every time. Brown bread is high fibre, meaning that you'll be delivering slow-release energy to your body every time. 

5. Swap juice for the whole fruit

Often, fruit juice is missing the fibre that the fruit provides, so if you drink more than one glass of orange juice a day, for example, it might be worth substituting one of them for the whole fruit.

6. Swap frying for poaching or grilling

Choose lean meat where possible, and poach, grill or bake it where possible.

7. Swap shop-bought dressing for a homemade one

Shop-bought salad dressings can be full of additives and hidden sugars. Make your own vinaigrette by shaking three parts oil with one part acid (vinegar or lemon juice) and store in a jar in the fridge. 

8. Swap fizzy drinks for a cup of coffee

Drinking coffee in moderation can be good for you.
Drinking coffee in moderation can be good for you.

When consumed in moderation, coffee can have great health benefits, particularly in terms of liver health where studies have shown that moderate amounts of coffee can slow the progression of liver disease.

9. Swap creamy sauces for tomato or stock-based ones

Try to incorporate fruit and vegetables into your sauces too. Favour tomato-based sauces over creamy ones. 

10. Swap meat for fish

Swap meat for fish once or twice a week and try to eat at least one portion of oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, fresh tuna and sardines which will contribute to your heart health. 

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