While most of us pledge to start a healthier lifestyle at the start of the year, many of us have already reverted to our old habits by the end of February. You may be tempted to think that drastic diets are the way to go, but the truth is most (if not all) of them will not be sustainable in the long term.
Luckily, there are many smaller things you can do if you’re looking to make your diet a little bit healthier and build up habits that will stay with you for a lifetime.
Swap white for wholemeal
There is nothing wrong with having carbs in your diet. Our bodies need carbohydrates for energy, which are largely used to keep us alive. While many think that it’s necessary to cut them completely to be healthy, this couldn’t be further from the truth!
Instead of buying white bread or pasta, choose whole-wheat or wholemeal alternatives that are higher in fiber and contain more vitamins and antioxidants than white flour. Fibers are essential to good digestion and opting for wholemeal flours will help you stay full for longer, as these alternatives release energy over a long time period, rather than a “spike”.
Swap energy drinks for coffee or tea
It’s all too easy to reach out for a can of energy drink when you’re tired, but these can contain large amounts of sugar, which can quickly add up at the end of the day. If you find yourself in need of a boost, try having a cup of coffee or green tea instead, which will give you some added health benefits too (when drunk in moderation).
If you’re used to sweeter tastes, try cutting out how much sugar you put in your tea or coffee, and you’ll see that over time you won’t need it at all.
Swap alcohol for light alternatives
When consumed in moderation, you don’t have to avoid all alcohol to have a healthy lifestyle. If you enjoy having a beer on Friday nights, you can continue to do so. Nowadays many brands, like Tennent’s Light, offer light versions of their lagers, which have fewer calories while retaining the same taste.
A great swap if you still want to partake in an after-work drink without missing out!
Swap low-fat yoghurt for Greek yoghurt
Yes, you’ve read that right. Many people reach out for low-fat alternatives when they want to be healthier – after all, this is what these types of products are marketed for. Low-fat yoghurts tend to have a lot of added sugars, which isn’t necessarily a better alternative to regular yoghurt. Instead, give greek-style a try as these tend to have higher amounts of protein (which can help you stay fuller longer) while naturally having lower amounts of fat and sugar than other yoghurts.
Don’t forget to always check low-fat alternatives, as they might not always be the healthiest choice, regardless of what marketing tells you.
Swap crisps for popcorn
It’s probably fair to say that most of us struggle with snacking, which can be a big source of extra calories between meals. Crisps tend to be a popular choice for those of us who want to munch on something while waiting for lunch or dinner.
Try swapping your favorite crisps for popcorn – which can sound like another “junk food” but is actually a great alternative. Popcorn is a whole grain, lower in fat and higher in fiber than crisps, which can help you stay full without packing on the calories. Try to avoid versions that are high in salt or sugar and be mindful when you savor popcorn, it’s easy to eat a lot too quickly!
These are only a few of the many swaps you can try to make your lifestyle healthier. Remember that baby steps always add up, and making smaller changes to your diet to keep it sustainable in the long term will always be better than the latest juice cleanse or fad diet.
If you’ve enjoyed this post, you can find more tips and advice in our lifestyle section.