A Dietician Reveals 5 Simple Food Swaps That Will Help You Lose Weight

As we welcome 2018, you may be considering your recovery from an overindulgent holiday. According to Accredited Practising Dietitian and Amcal Wellness Program Manager, Megan Alsford, “We often feel refreshed in the New Year and motivation for healthy living is high, so it’s a good idea to make the most of this momentum with sustainable and realistic changes that can make a big difference.”

“We always have the best intentions around our health and wellness but often struggle to find achievable ways to implement changes,” added Megan. 

“We’re heading back to work, the kids might still be on school holidays, family may be visiting – either way it’s a busy time and it’s important to not beat yourself up if you can’t be healthy in every way all the time.”

To help you get on the right track, Megan has compiled a list of foods and some healthier alternatives to kick-start your 2018 healthy eating plan:

SWAP THIS: Rice Crackers 

FOR THAT: Rainbow Veggie Sticks

These irresistible little bites will no doubt have made an appearance at many Christmas parties. Although they taste light and aren’t high in fat, they still add a lot of energy with little other benefit. Just 14 crackers (or one row) is equivalent to 415 kilojoules and let’s be honest, who keeps it to one row? They also have a high Glycemic Index (which means they won’t keep you full) and one row becomes two very quickly. 

I suggest mixing it up and swapping rice crackers for veggie sticks. Veggies are on high rotation in my diet and a great go-to snack. One cup of mixed veggie sticks as opposed to rice crackers can save around 293 kilojoules*, plus you’ll get the added benefit of fibre and vitamins. I like combining an array of colours with carrots, cucumber, capsicum, celery and green beans. 

SWAP THIS: Caesar Salad

FOR THAT: Tuna Nicoise

Yes, salads are healthy and a great option for lunch or dinner but can be deceptively high in kilojoules with the wrong toppings and dressings. Building a healthy salad is easy, fill your bowl or plate with salad vegetables, add a little protein and carbs and flavour with herbs, olive oil, lemon juice or low fat yoghurt. Check out the below table to help you build a nutritious salad. 

Start with plenty of…

Add a little…

Flavour finish…

Leafy greens, try a mix of dark leaf and green leaf

Low fat cheese (cheddar, feta, ricotta, parmesan)

Fresh herbs (mint, coriander, basil, oregano)


Dry roasted nuts


Green beans

Lean meats




Lemon or lime zest



Lemon, orange or lime juice

Shredded Beetroot

Kidney beans

Olive oil


Black eyed beans

Peanut oil

Steamed broccoli


Low fat yoghurt

Grilled zucchini

Brown rice

Balsamic vinegar

There is really no limit to which veggies you choose


SWAP THIS: Café Smoothie

FOR THAT: Make Your Own Smoothie

Smoothies are typically made with healthy ingredients but it can be easy to forget the kilojoules that make up a drink or smoothie – just because the drink is green, doesn’t mean it’s better for you! For example, a green smoothie can have as much as 1,000 kilojoules* per serve. 

Try making your own so you know the ingredients and watch the portion sizes, aim for 1 piece of fruit or ½ cup juice, juicy vegetables, ice and top with water. A protein shake can also make a good smoothie if you have a craving. A Be Good to Yourself shake only has 590 kilojoules and the added benefit of vitamins, minerals and 20 grams of protein.

SWAP THIS: Banana Bread

FOR THAT: Real Bananas!

Bread is healthy and so is banana, so banana bread should be too right? Not exactly, banana bread is just another name for cake. Just one slice can have the same amount of kilojoules as some chocolate mud cakes.

Ditch the banana bread for a real fruit banana or if you’re looking for a more substantial snack, toast one slice of wholegrain bread and top with half a sliced banana and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Technically it’s still banana bread, right?

SWAP THIS: Basil and Parmesan Dip

FOR THAT: Tomato Salsa

Dips made from veggies and yoghurt sound healthy but some can still be kilojoule dense and super easy to eat a lot of in one sitting. Be careful of the information on the back of the pack as some brands list kilojoules per serve which is only 20 grams or 1 scoop. 

The comparison table below is a guide to help find a smarter option dip. All values are per 20 grams (averages only) and remember it’s only per scoop. So no matter which dip you choose, watch your serving size and use veggie sticks as the vehicle.



Low Fat Tzatziki


French Onion

Chunky Style Dips







LAST BUT NOT LEAST – Go easy on yourself

Healthy living is about balance and foods shouldn’t be labelled as good or bad. Instead of an all or nothing approach where you eliminate whole food groups or restrict certain foods, look for small sustainable changes that together can make a big difference.

There is a huge range of support out there and sometimes we need some extra support. Amcal’s Be Good To Yourself Program is based on a comprehensive and scientific weight management program that will give you all the tools, education and support you need to successfully lose weight and improve your health.

Megan is an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) and is passionate about helping people achieve their health and wellness goals. She offers practical advice to incorporate healthy living and maintain enjoyment from food. Megan trains and supports the Wellness Coaches who run the Be Good To Yourself program.

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