Health Chatter: Small food swaps make a big difference

Updated: Feb 4

Download the PDF here to share with your teams

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

Swap:

  • Red meat

for

  • Poultry - chicken or turkey (skin removed)

  • Fish

  • Eggs

  • Beans and pulses

  • Quorn

Swap:

  • Full fat milk

  • Cheese from cow's milk

  • Cream

  • Ice cream

  • Mayonnaise

for

  • Semi-skimmed milk, skimmed milk or 1% milk

  • Cheese from goat's milk

  • Single cream (not double)

  • Frozen yoghurt

  • Tzatziki (yoghurt dressing)

Swap:

  • White bread, rice & pasta

for

  • Wholegrain varieties


A selection of different types of bread in a bakery
Try swapping white bread for wholegrain varieties

Swap:

  • Pastry

  • Pies

  • Sausage rolls

for

  • Pies or flans with a lid or case - not both

  • Sausage on a wholemeal roll

Swap:

  • Cakes

  • Biscuits

  • Sugar-coated cereals

  • Chocolate & sweets

  • Sugary drinks

for

  • Scones (buttered)

  • Rice cakes

  • Porridge or wholegrain cereal

  • Dried fruit and nuts

  • No added sugar options

Swap:

  • Crisps

  • Salted nuts

for

  • Popcorn (unsalted)

  • Unsalted nuts

  • Vegetable sticks

Download the PDF here to share with your teams Our sources and for more information: https://www.nhs.uk/ https://www.bhf.org.uk/ https://www.diabetes.org.uk/ https://www.nutrition.org.uk/


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Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.