10 Food Swaps That Will Improve Your Family's Health
I am a massive believer in the healing qualities of food. As soon as my son comes down with some kind of virus or cold I start shaking up the menu to include more foods that will help him recover quickly.
I really feel like it makes a huge difference. Food also plays a massive role in a person’s energy levels which can affect the way they approach school, sports and how they interact with their friends.
On an adult level, we can compare it to how lethargic and tired we feel after a big stodgy meal. It can be difficult to focus when we get back to work as we only feel fit for a nap.
On top of all of this food affects the way we sleep and the link between sleep and a person’s overall wellbeing is huge.
By making some changes to the way your family eats you can have a really big impact on their overall physical and emotional health.
With so much information and advice out there it can be overwhelming to know what to pay attention to or even where to start. Making food swaps is a really effective way of improving your family’s health – so let’s begin there.
Here are 10 food swaps that could make all the difference.
1. Swap white pasta and rice for wholegrain. This will increase your family’s fibre intake really easily. A diet rich in fibre is linked to higher energy levels and a better digestive system. It will also keep things regular and healthy in the toilet department for both adults and children.
2. Swap fizzy drinks for no added sugar cordial options. They can still be full of hidden sugars but many of the “sugar-free” and “no added sugar” options are far better for you than fizzy drinks. In our house, the kids are not allowed to have fizzy drinks so this one might just apply to the adults. In a perfect world, everyone would only drink water but baby steps are good.
3. Swap “kids yoghurt” for healthier alternatives such as full-fat Greek or natural yoghurt. Many of these fromage frais yoghurts are packed with sugar and very little fruit despite the packaging suggesting they are healthy. You can naturally sweeten plain yoghurt with some honey, maple syrup or fruit puree.
4. Swap crisps for popcorn. Crisps are high in saturated fat whereas popcorn is high in wholegrains and fibre. Making the popcorn in a pot yourself is even better as you can control the amount of salt you add to the portion.
5. Swap fried eggs for poached eggs when having the weekend family breakfast. The kids won’t notice and you will avoid all that saturated fat if you’re using oil to fry the eggs. Saturated fat can be damaging to your heart.
6. Swap sugary cereals for plainer cereals with added fruit and natural syrups to sweeten. While you’re still adding some natural sweetness it is much better for your health than the processed refined sugars found in cereals.
7. Swap pre-made snacks for home-made snacks. The options are endless but try some home-made oaty muffins, banana pancakes or ice-pops. Many of these take little effort to make and can be batch cooked and stored for the entire week. You will be avoiding a lot of unnecessary sugar and salt while increasing your children’s vitamins, minerals and fibre at the same time.
8. Switch to coconut oil instead of your usual cooking oil. Coconut oil has so many health benefits such as adding healthy fats to your diet and increasing your body’s metabolic rate.
9. Cut down on dairy and try some alternatives such as nut or oat milks. Many of us struggle to digest dairy and it is helpful to mix things up, especially when we can obtain Calcium in so many other areas of our diet. Nut milk is delicious and works well in tea, coffee, cereals and as a foundation for smoothies.
10. Offer dark chocolate as a treat sometimes. The kids might just surprise you. Dark chocolate is actually considered to aid your health and many adults find that one or two squares hits the spot!
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.