5 smart swaps for health
I want you to picture yourself sitting or lying under a fruit tree. There’s fruit all the way at the top, then there’s fruit literally hanging right there in front of you.
[Read Time: 4 Min]
I want you to picture yourself sitting or lying under a fruit tree. There’s fruit all the way at the top, then there’s fruit literally hanging right there in front of you. The fruit at the top is worth it, and you’ll want to climb to get it eventually, but you’re going to ‘tick off’ the low-hanging fruit by grabbing it first.
The high-fruit is a metaphor for your future goals, the things which you will achieve, but take a lot more time and work. The low-hanging fruit are fast, easier things you can do leading towards your larger goals.
Here I give you 5x low-hanging fruit swaps for you to implement into your weekly cooking- whether you’re trying to lose body fat, or just improve your health!
- COOKING OIL
We all use it, it helps prevent food sticking to the pan and crumbling apart, and it helps carry plus adds flavour to our food.
However, oil is essentially pure fat, which (as a reminder) is the most energy-dense macronutrient. In other words, it is easy to over-consume (frying things in lots of oil, drizzling it all over pasta or salads), which may increase the likelihood of weight gain, or make it harder to lose weight.
QUICK SWAP: Olive oil spray. You can still prevent foods from sticking to the pan, you can still get your potatoes nice and crispy, but you add way less fat to your food in the mean-time.
Nobody wants bland tasting food- the old-era chicken, rice and broccoli is slowly on the way out. Sauces make food taste great, and we by all means want exciting-tasting food. However, many sauces out there can contain large amounts of added sugar and fat, which again, are easy to over-consume and influence our likelihood of gaining weight. Particular culprits are cheesy and/or creamy sauces, aiolis, mayonnaise, caesar or ranch dressing, and even sugary sauces like sweet chilli, tomato and BBQ sauce.
QUICK SWAPS: Reduced fat mayonnaises, reduced sugar tomato/BBQ/sweet chilli sauces, Nandos Peri-Peri sauce, tomato based (rather than cream-based) pasta sauces and olive oil/citrus/vinegar (rather than creamy) based salad dressings. These are all easy ways to add flavour to your food, without adding plenty of excess energy in the meantime.
- CHEESES + COCONUT
We all love cheese (well, weirdly, I don’t, but most of you do), and it can absolutely contribute valuable nutrients to our diet in certain circumstances. However, cheese-laden dishes, like nachos, lasagne, cheesy pastas/salads/sandwiches can be high in total and saturated fat, which can have negative effects on our health and weight over time if we eat too much of it.
Coconut based curries are also loved by many people, and can be very healthy in many ways, but too contain high amounts of total and saturated fat.
QUICK SWAPS: When using cheese, opt for reduced-fat cheese. Bega 50% less fat cheese is one of the best on the market. When using coconut milk or cream, opt for a ‘lite’ version- TCC and Pandaroo are 2x of the best brands on the market.
- DRINKS: ALCOHOLIC AND NON-ALCOHOLIC
We all love a drink, and it can definitely contribute to our social health when out seeing friends and family when enjoyed in moderation. Despite this, alcoholic drinks contain Calories from the alcohol itself (7 Calories per gram of alcohol), and many drinks also contain carbohydrates in them, which contribute further Calories. These are easy to over-consume, which can therefore also increase our risk of gaining weight if we drink too much and too often.
Similarly, many non-alcoholic drinks contain added sugar, including full sugar soft drinks, slushies, bottled iced-coffee, iced tea, full sugar energy drinks, sports drinks and more. Even though not all contain added sugar, fruit juice is still a rich source of fructose (another kind of sugar naturally present in fruit), which is easy to over-consume in juice form.
QUICK SWAPS: Try to limit yourself to 2x standard drinks on any one day, and stick to spirits + sugar-free mixers whenever you can. Choose water as your main drink, but opt for sugar-free versions of things like soft drinks, iced teas and other pre-bottled beverages. Save fruit juice for 1-2x a week, and prioritise eating actual whole-fruit which is much harder to over-consume.
Red meat can contribute many beneficial nutrients to our diets, like protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B12. However, there are better and worse options when choosing it. The more ‘white stuff’ you see on/throughout cuts of red meat, whether that be beef, pork or lamb, the more saturated fat it contains, which over time can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease if you eat too much of it. Mince is a big one- regular/economy/3-star minces are often high in fat, and are made of off-cuts during butchery.
Processed meats are another one- sausages, pies, salami, pastrami, bacon, other deli meats, all contain high amounts of total and saturated fat, as well as high amounts of salt and other preservatives, which have been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Finally, chicken skin, although popular amongst people I know as being ‘the best part’ (I will never understand this, somebody please help me understand), is a rich source of fat that we need to be aware of.
QUICK SWAPS: Choose lean cuts of red meat- look for options with the ‘least amount of white stuff’, and trim as much of this away as you can before cooking. Kangaroo is a fantastic lean red meat option which I implore you to try- there are steaks, sausages, burgers, meatballs, skewers and roasts on the market which are all significantly lower in fat than traditional counterparts. Limit other processed meats, chicken skin, and crumbed + fried chicken and fish for special occasions only, opting for crumb/batter free grilled, steamed or baked options instead.