Self-isolation and disruptions to our usual work-life balance may have changed our regular eating habits and even spiking our intake of sugar, caffeine and alcohol.

During this time, I have also noticed that more often than not I am eating less, not drinking enough water and making poor choices when it comes to my meals at home and my snacks out while exercising.

It’s the small choices that can make a big impact on our health and overall wellbeing. As restrictions ease, it’s time to get our routines back on track, including maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet.

Here is my pick of the easiest food swaps you can make in your day for a better-balanced diet.

Ditch: White Rice and Noodles

Brown rice, spelt, buckwheat and quinoa options are the healthier alternatives to white rice and wheat noodles. The whole grains will also keep you feeling fuller for longer. If you are really looking to kick those heavy carbs, why not ditch it altogether and replace with a cup of fresh or blanched greens.

Quinoa is so versatile, try using it at breakfast time, cooking it up just as you would with oats.

Ditch: Chocolate and Sweets

A handful of your favourite nuts in between meals are better for you instead of a sugary treat, giving your body a boost of omega-3 fatty acid, protein and fibre. With a high-fat content, you will still need to snack in moderation and it’s best to stick to the raw or dry-roasted varieties.

Snacks like air-popped corn with sea salt are also a great alternative to keep those chocolate cravings at bay and If you just can’t kick the chocolate habit (I know its tough), keep intake to a minimum and choose a good quality dark chocolate that is around 70% cocoa mass.

Ditch: Muffins/Bagels

Switch out the sweet and salt-filled pastries for a bowl of wholesome and warming oats. For the best source of fibre, find the steel-cut oats. As they are processed the least, they will take a little longer to cook but it is all worth it for the dietary fibre. If you can’t find them, rolled oats are just as good and are so easy to prepare. Once cooked, a boring bowl can be spruced up with your favourite toppings. I usually add berries, honey and pecans.

Ditch: Store-bought flavoured yoghurt

Yoghurt is a great source of calcium, protein and can be great for our digestive systems. Check the product label for yoghurt that contains live, active cultures.

Choose a natural or greek style yoghurt and simply mix into a bowl with a squeeze of honey, fresh fruit and seeds and you’ve got yourself a delicious snack without the excess sugar intake found in flavoured store-bought varieties.

By Genevieve Reynolds

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