Roxanne Fisher explains how a few simple food swaps can revolutionise your everyday diet...
Watching what you eat isn't much fun. Shunning pasta for superhealthy salads and avoiding calorie-packed alcohol when out with friends can be enough to ruin the very best of intentions.
All or nothing diets almost always end in disaster, but getting healthy and trim doesn't have to mean missing out. Make a few of the following simple changes to your everyday eating habits and you'll soon see the difference...
- Shop-bought cereal can often be packed full of sugar, salt and saturates so making your own ensures a healthy start to the day. Use fibre-filled oats as the base then add in your favourite dried fruits and extra health boosters such as wheatgerm, linseed and sesame seeds.
- If the first thing you do when falling out of bed is flick the kettle on, then switch to semi-skimmed or skimmed milk and use honey to sweeten tea in place of sugar for a natural curb to cravings. If you feel you're drinking too much coffee and want to kick the habit altogether, try an alternative such as genmaicha; a Japanese brown rice tea that has a rich, roasted flavour and a fraction of the caffeine.
- A full-English breakfast is hard to resist... and why should you? Use wholegrain bread, prosciutto instead of bacon and poach eggs to cut down on fat and avoid the greasy fry-up. No need to leave out the baked beans though - that's one of your five a day right there.
- Resist grabbing the first plastic-packed sandwich you see and make your own using low-GI wholegrain, soya or linseed bread, spread with houmous or a thin layer of butter (not a low-fat spread that lacks the healthy fats of real butter). Get inventive with healthy fillings or pack full of salad for a satisfying lunch with crunch.
- Exchange your usual jacket potato for a sweet potato and top with healthier fillings such as tuna, low-fat cottage cheese and homemade baked beans. If the summer months prove too hot for soup and you're sick of salads, try making Spanish favourite gazpacho- a cold, tomato-based soup that is rich in vitamin C.
- If fizzy, sugary drinks usually see you through the afternoon swap for energy-boosting smoothies or flavoured sparkling water. Avoid the temptation to end your lunch with a bag of crisps or chocolate bar and instead enjoy low fat alternatives such as lime & chilli pitta crisps and Angela Nilsen's chocolate chip cookies that weigh in at just 97cals each.
- Avoid fast food and last-minute dinners and opt for lean meats and oily fish as a supper staple when watching what you eat. Steam or grill fish, and pair with stir-fry veg, using cooking spray oil for a healthier result. Also, try makeover: shepherd's pie with lean lamb, cooked using rapeseed oil, which has about half the saturated fat found in olive oil.
- If you're an avid meat-eater get a protein boost from an alternative source once in a while. Replace meat with protein-rich beans in dishes such as chilli and lasagne and try using pulses such as lentils, chickpeas and kidney beans in soups, salads and stews too.
- There's no need to banish pasta from the menu. Buy brown and wholemeal where possible and opt for homemade, tomato sauces rather than creamy fat-packed cheese versions.
Don't deprive yourself of dessert; try fat-free frozen yoghurt instead of ice cream or make fruit the main attraction in a chocolaty pud. Feeling thirsty? Give beer and cider a wide birth but still enjoy a tipple with low-fat summer G&T.
What are your top tips for happy and healthy eating? Share your ideas below...