Updated: Mar 8, 2022
Making healthier food choices involves reducing our intake of fats (especially saturated fats), sugars and salt that can increase our risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
Learn about labels
With a little understanding, food labels are a great source of information and can help you make informed choices. Some products claim to be a healthier option when in fact one unhealthy ingredient has been exchanged for another e.g. “low in fat” may be much higher in sugar than the standard product and equally less good for your health. Many food products are now labelled using the traffic light scheme, but even where they aren’t, looking at the nutritional information for a product can help.
Aim to move from products that are mainly in the red zone to those in the amber or green zone:
Red = HIGH - eat less or less often
Amber = MEDIUM - Okay but not all the time
Green = LOW - Okay to eat every day in the right amount
For more information about traffic light nutrition labels visit the British Nutritional Foundation here. Start with small changes
Avoid adding unnecessary fat, sugar or salt to your food
Use vegetable-based oils for cooking, such as olive and sunflower oils. Instead of pouring oil into the pan, measure out a teaspoon of oil and use a pastry brush to coat the pan.
Grill, bake or steam food rather than frying or roasting
Avoid processed foods that add sugar and salt to improve their taste such as ready-made meals. Try making your own from fresh or frozen ingredients – you can usually make more for less and have some to store in your freezer for a healthier “ready meal”.
Cut back gradually, e.g. if you have 2 spoons of sugar in your hot drink try it with one, then none or don’t add table salt to your meal and then try cooking without salt using herbs and spices to add flavour instead.
Check that you're eating the recommended portion size. The portion size on the packet may be less than you would normally eat.
Food swap ideas
Poultry - chicken or turkey (skin removed)
Beans and pulses
Full fat milk
Cheese from cow's milk
Semi-skimmed milk, skimmed milk or 1% milk
Cheese from goat's milk
Single cream (not double)
Tzatziki (yoghurt dressing)
White bread, rice & pasta
Pies or flans with a lid or case - not both
Sausage on a wholemeal roll
Chocolate & sweets
Porridge or wholegrain cereal
Dried fruit and nuts
No added sugar options
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