We all know healthy eating is essential to longevity and wellness, yet many of us struggle to make the right choices when it comes to our nutritional choices. Sometimes it can feel as though we’re the only one struggling to make the right choices, but this is far from the truth.
According to the National Heart Foundation of Australia:
- In 2011/12, close to two in every three (63%) adult Australians aged 18 years and over were overweight or obese, with 27.5% obese and 35.3% overweight.
And the 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey found:
- Based on people’s self-reported usual consumption of vegetables, just 6.8% of the population met the recommended usual intake of vegetables.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines: Recommended Daily Intakes recommends women (19-50 years) should aim to consume 5 servings of vegetables and legumes a day, whilst men of the same age should aim to consume 6 servings per day.
Now that’s food for thought. So why do so many of us struggle to make dietary choice that we know is good for us?
Some reasons include:
- Depriving ourselves by removing foods groups or eating as little as possible;
- The all or nothing approach, especially when it comes to weekends and events;
- Thinking we’re already eating healthfully;
- A lack of preparation; and
- Depending on willpower instead of discipline.
It’s commonly said the three simplest ways to improve our diets are to:
- Replace – Swap some of the “bad stuff” for more of the “good stuff”;
- Reduce – Eat less of the “bad stuff”; and
- Remove – Remove the “bad stuff”.
When we look at these three dietary modifications, it’s becomes evident that for most people, ‘replace’ will be the easiest option to adopt and incorporate into their current diet. This is because by choosing to swap current food choices for slightly healthier alternatives, we’re avoiding the potential risk of falling into deprivation, the all-or-nothing mentality and the likelihood of depending on willpower over discipline.
Here is a list of easy food swaps everyone should consider incorporating into their daily lives, routines and habits:
- Swap from whole dairy such as milk and yogurt for lower fat options.
- Swap sugary breakfast cereals for a whole grain cereals such as porridge or shredded wholegrain wheat cereal, with no added sugar.
- Swap adding sugar as a topping on food for fresh or dried fruit.
- Swap your regular breakfast for a vegetable based breakfast such as cooked or sliced tomatoes, onions, avocado on wholegrain toast or English muffins or a vegetable omelette.
- Swap white breads, bagels and muffins for wholegrain varieties.
- Swap butter and cheese for reduced fat options.
- Swap regular for salt and sugar reduced canned items.
- Swap veg free lunches for sandwiches, rolls, wraps and soups filled with vegetables.
- Swap store bought lunches for home cooked leftovers from the night before.
- Swap creamy or cheesy sauces for tomato or vegetable based sauces.
- Swap mashed potato made with full fat dairy for reduced fat dairy.
- Choose leaner cuts of meat, for example, swap a t-bone steak for a top round steak, or full fat mince for lean mince.
- Swap pan frying for grilling.
- Swap battered foods for uncrumbed versions.
- Swap skin on meat for skinless.
- Swap low/no vegetable meals for vegetable based meals.
- Swap whole milk in your coffee for a reduced fat option.
- Swap or reduce sugary drinks with a glass of water, herbal teas or sugar free option.
- Swap pre-made iced coffee for a homemade version.
- Swap binge drinking on the weekend for enjoying alcohol in moderation. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend men and women should not consume more than two standard drinks on any one day.
- Swap full fat and yoghurt for reduced fat options with no or little added sugar.
- Swap chips for rice cakes.
- Swap biscuits for nuts, preferencing unsalted varieties.
- Swap sweet platters for fruit platters.
- Swap proceed meat platters for vegetables cut into bite sized pieces.
- Swap store bought dips for homemade versions.
- Swap regular for salt and sugar reduced canned items such as baked beans.
Even if you only consider starting with one simple swap, it’s only a matter of time until you find yourself introducing another and then another as it becomes second nature and simply a way of life.
So give it a go today. And if you’re interested in joining a group of supportive Perth women who take on mini-challenges such as taking the stairs or adding a serving of vegetables everyday for a week on a regular basis, please feel free to join the Perth Female Health and Fitness Community on Facebook. We provide a supportive and motivational place for the women of Perth to come together and share their health and fitness journeys.