The food we consume, and how we cook it, make a huge difference to our overall heart health. I know, I know…you don’t want the rabbit food diet! So, let’s look at some ways we can adopt a healthier diet, without feeling like we are really on a diet. Think of it as a healthy substitution plan.
1. Ditch the takeaway
- Plan your meals for the week before doing your shopping
- If you can cook some parts of your meal ahead of time or as a batch, DO IT!
- If there is a meal that you love to eat reheated, use that as an option when you know you will be strapped for time the following day.
- Try freezing some of your favourites as a go to instead of reaching for the takeout menu.
2. Change your methods
The way we cook our food makes a difference to how healthy it is! Try to avoid any methods that rely on lots of oil or butter…sorry deep fryer, it’s time to go.
- Try swapping a deep fryer for an air fryer, you’ll get the great crispy finish without all the saturated fats.
- Steam your vegetables instead of boiling them, you’ll retain more flavour and nutrients without any extra effort.
- Try poaching instead of frying. Poached eggs is a great substitute for fried eggs. Pair it with some fresh wholemeal or wholegrain toast and you’ve got a heart healthy meal that ticks all the boxes! You could even pair it with some sauteed mushrooms or tomatoes with mixed herbs for a little extra flavour, without adding salt!
- Use herbs and spices to add flavour to your cooking rather than adding salt. Be wary of prepacked spice mixes that may be more salt than spice!
3. Swapping ingredients
These swaps are so good you’ll feel like you’re cheating!
- Cream – swap for some ricotta cheese sweetened with a little honey or icing sugar
- Processed meats – try slow cooking, roasting or grilling meats instead. You can batch cook these ahead of time for tasty sandwiches or pair with brown rice for a wholegrain packed meal
- Puff pastry – Use filo pastry instead, brush every few layers with some olive oil, egg white or yoghurt.
- Butter when baking – substitute for spreads made with olive oil or sunflower oil.
- Flavoured milk and yoghurt – swap for unflavoured varieties and add some fresh or frozen fruit
- Butter as a spread – swap for healthier alternatives like avocado, nut butter, hummus or spreads made with olive, sunflower or canola oil.
Making some small changes over time can have a great impact on your health. You will find the more small changes you make, the better you will feel. This often leads to increased energy, leading to increased exercise and reduced weight. WIN, WIN, WIN.
As always, see your local doctor to help you get started. Ask for a referral to a dietician who can help with making healthy food choices – this might be available as a Medicare subsidised plan! Utilise the internet to find heart healthy recipes from reputable sources, or get your kids or grandkids to help if you aren’t great with the internet.
Great places to find heart healthy recipes: