Most times, by only making small changes to our diet and overall lifestyles – we can see a considerable changes to our energy levels and the way we manage our weight.
Here are some you can start implementing straight away…
1.Swap white bread for wholemeal versions:
Wholemeal bread has a nutritional advantage compared to white bread by having more fibre, more vitamins and minerals and a lower Glycemic Index (GI) than white bread, which shows how quickly food affects our blood sugar levels and how quickly carbohydrates are turned into glucose, which provokes the insulin response. Whole grain bread is the best option with around 50 GI, whilst GI of white bread is high ranking of 70.
Remember that one slice of bread is the serving per meal, not two or more… be it white or brown.
2. Swap white potato for sweet potato or extra veg:
Sweet potatoes have fewer carbs and calories than white potatoes and also more vitamins. However, where they really differ is when it comes to the Glycemic Index: while GI of a white potato is extremely high, around 90 (out of 100), sweet potato, when boiled, is low to medium, 44. Avoid baking sweet potato for 45 minutes or over when it actually turns into candy with GI of over 90.
Also, avoid frying potatoes, processed versions like crisps or chips, choose healthy toppings (cottage cheese rather than cheddar cheese) and leave the skin on – it contains more nutrients as well as fibre.
3. Swap your white rice for brown or wild rice or quinoa or lentils:
The more white rice you eat – the greater your risk for Diabetes, Type 2, as research shows, as it causes blood sugar spikes similar to that of sugar. Both white and brown rice have relatively high GI, 60-70, only slightly lower for brown rice. Brown rice will contain more fibre as well as protein and, when combined with protein and vegetables, Glycemic Load of an overall meal becomes medium to low.
Even healthier choices are quinoa or lentils that offer even more fibre and protein than brown rice per 100gr, almost double. GI of lentils or barley is 20, beans 25, chickpeas 35, bulgur 45, quinoa 50, all relatively medium to low and a great substitute for rice, white or brown.
4. Swap your fruit & fizzy juices for fruit infused water:
Fruit and fizzy drinks are notorious for their sugar content. Our upper limit for daily sugar consumption is 90 grams for an adult, half for children. 330ml of fruit juice or fizzy drink easily has around 40 grams of sugar or 10 teaspoons. If you have a child, one glass of such drink hits their daily upper limit. And when you add cereals most start their day with, other sweets, etc – no wonder we have obesity problem with our children, including dental problems. Same is for adults.
There is no place in our diet for ready made fruit juices and fizzy drinks. Replace them with water that you can infuse with some chopped fruit for flavour or with lemon or lime or with herbal teas. It is much healthier and it will give you the energy you need without causing energy crash soon after consumption.
If making freshly squeezed juices – make sure the ratio is 20% fruit and 80% vegetable content as juicing can also cause us to consume too much sugar in one single go.
5. Swap salt with spices:
The human body can not live without salt or sodium: it is needed to transmit nerve impulses, contract and relax muscle fibres and maintain proper fluid balance. However, it does not take much salt to do this. Upper limit is 6 grams of salt per day and considering most foods contain salt, it is possible to get all the needs through the foods that we eat. If all of us are eating 5-6 meals per day, as each meal should not contain more than 400mg of sodium – you can see that it is easy to achieve it if you know that breast of chicken has 400mg already, 3 eggs have 200mg, etc. Vegetables, grains, legumes contain it too.
If you eat too much salt – the extra water stored in your body raises blood pressure and the higher the blood pressure – the higher the pressure on heart, arteries, kidneys and brain, which can lead to heart attacks, strokes, dementia and kidney disease.
Using spices adds extra health benefits to your meals not just extra flavour and it is just a matter of retraining our taste buds to realise we do not need as much salt.
Processed foods are notorious for their sodium content – one pizza can have in excesse of 5000 mg of sodium. Excess salt can also cause body to cause sugar cravings as body seeks balance.
6. Swap sauces for spice rubs:
Ready made sauces are notorious for their sugar and salt content. It is easy to make a tomato sauce from scratch using real tomatoes and add flavour to meals by adding spices rather than sauces for flavour.
7. Reduce overall meat as well as swap red meat for lean meat coming from fish, chicken or turkey:
Red meat is high in saturated fats, which can raise our blood cholesterol and high levels of LDL cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease.
It takes longer to be digested too, so swapping for lean meats can cut the digestion in half.
Research also suggests that eating red meat can boost the risk of kidney failure and swapping with lean meats or reducing red meat consumption can reduce this risk.
Plant based diet is proven to be healthier when it is balanced and put us at a much lower risk of heart and other diseases than non vegetarian diet does. Currently, there are other implications to high meat consumption such as environmental issues.
8. Swap coffee for herbal teas:
Proper quality coffee can give an anioxidant boost to our diet, however, too much coffee, over two cups a day, can mean too much caffeine consumption in a day. Making sure we stick to this limit and increase water and herbal tea consumption will also have a tremendous benefit on our health.
9. Swap your cereal for a balanced breakfast or a balanced meal replacement shake:
This could possibly be one of the best swaps you do as breakfast is indeed the most important meal of the day and balanced breakfast will ensure stable blood sugar levels that have an effect on our cravings and hunger throughout the day.
Low protein and high carb breakfast (toasts, cereals, etc.) will send your blood sugar spiking, cause hormonal unbalance and is one of the main culprits to obesity.
Healthy breakfast needs to contain balance of protein and fibre and one of the examples would be 2-3 eggs with sweet potato and avocado; cottage cheese with avocado and tomato; yoghurt with some fruit and nuts, etc.
Personally, my favourite breakfast that my family and I have enjoyed since 2004, is our Herbalife Nutrition Formula 1 Ideal Breakfast. It offers, apart from plant protein and great amount of fibre, also a great amount of vitamins and minerals. It is as ideal as breakfasts is able to get.
Thank you for reading and I hope this has been of an interest. Enjoy your food swaps and watch your waistline shrink!
Yours in health,