As you may have seen, the NHS has recently ramped up their Better Health campaign to help families make healthier food choices. The recent coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a large increase in child obesity rates. Latest studies show that 1 in 4 children at reception age in the UK, are now categorized as overweight. Being trapped inside during the various lockdowns has led to a substantial decrease in children’s physical activity. School runs and playtime tag were swapped for hours locked away with their online classes and electronic devices. Evidence also shows that a lot of families were buying more food than usual whilst in lockdown, and purchasing more sugar laden and fatty snack than pre-pandemic. The NHS is hoping to aid families in making better choices when it comes to the food they buy and consume. The campaign encourages them to make healthier food swaps by using their newly released, Food Scanner App. Parents can use the app by scanning a certain food they wish to purchase, and the app will suggest a selection of alternatives they can swap it for. Making Better Choices Here at Wholefood Earth, although we may not have a food scanning app, we are more than happy to recommend some healthier swaps. Whilst exercise is of course important, what you put into your body and fuel it with is also paramount. Junk food and sugary treats may feel good in the moment, but they can contribute to a wide range of health problems later down the line. So why not try swapping some of these out for some lower calorie and more nutritionally dense alternatives, and reap the benefits? Whether you are looking to lose weight or just be healthier in general - we’ve got you covered! Swap Crisps for Popcorn Let’s face it; snacking is an essential and tasty part of life. When sitting down to watch a movie, what snack should you be reaching for - crisps or popcorn? Let’s settle the debate. If you want to make the healthier choice, popcorn is the clear winner. Popcorn also known as Popping Corn is a wholegrain, an important food group may help to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. One cup of air popped popcorn contains approx. 31 calories, and less than one gram of fat! This means you’ll be able to eat a larger serving of popcorn for the same number of calories as most types of crisps. Popcorn is also higher in fibre than crisps, which is beneficial for digestive health. Just make sure to check if there has been anything added to the popcorn you are buying. This includes toppings such as oil, butter, salt or sugar, as this will put the calorie content up. For the healthiest option we suggest air popping your own popcorn at home! Replace Sweets with Dried Fruits Whilst having the odd bag of sweets as a treat won’t hurt, eating them regularly can negatively affect your health. Sweets have little to no nutritional value as they are generally made of pure refined sugar. An abundance of sugar in your diet can lead to weight gain, dental issues and overall poor nutrition. If you still want that sweet fix, but are looking for something healthier and more nutritious, we recommend Dried Fruits. After all, why have artificial candy when you can have nature’s own candy? Dried fruits have a wide range of nutritional benefits, they are high in fibre, and packed full of essential micronutrients and antioxidants. Plus, it counts as one of your 5 a day! However, as dried fruits do still contain a type of sugar, we recommend having them in moderation and watching your portion size. Try Nooch Instead of Cheese Nutritional Yeast Flakes (or as it is more widely known – Nooch) has become a popular food substitute for people wanting the taste of cheese without the animal fat or calories. Nooch has a strong savouriness which is said to be similar to the flavour of Parmesan cheese. So why should you be swapping out your grated cheese for Nutritional yeast flakes? Firstly, the calorie content is much lower than most of types of cheese. A tablespoon-sized amount of Nooch has just 20 calories and contains little to no sodium. Most brands of nutritional yeast are also fortified with the B12 vitamin. B12 is an essential vitamin needed for the development and function of many body parts, including the brain, nerves, and blood cells. This also makes it a great alternative for vegans as B12 is generally only found in animal products. Swap Chocolate for Carob Do you crave chocolate and suffer with a sweet tooth? Well, we’ve got some good news for you - there is a healthier replacement in town! Carob is an excellent alternative to chocolate. Whether it be in the form of chips, syrup or Carob Powder, you can use it the same way you would chocolate, in nearly all recipes. Carob also has a wide range of health benefits. Unlike chocolate it’s caffeine, tyramine and fat free, making it an ideal substitute for migraine sufferers and people with a high blood pressure. It’s lower in sugar and higher in fibre, meaning it will help you stay fuller for longer. Also, carob is naturally gluten free so is a better choice for anyone with digestive issues or coeliac disease. Swapping out chocolate for carob means you can still enjoy your favourite sweet treats with fewer calories, fat, and sugar – Yay! Replace Sugary Cereals with Oats Breakfast is often touted as the most important meal of the day. One of the most popular breakfast choices here in the UK is cereal. A lot of ready-made cereals you can pick up from your local supermarket can be high in sugar and high in calories. For a healthier choice, why not try swapping your cereal out for oatmeal? Oats are packed full of fibre which keeps you feeling satisfied for longer and therefore reducing the chance of snacking and overeating throughout the day. Many people report it gives them more energy and leaves them feeling less lethargic than they would eating other types of breakfast food. Their high soluble fibre content can also aid in reducing blood sugar levels and insulin response. Oats are also incredibly versatile, you can mix anything you like into it, making it either savoury or sweet - so you can get creative with your breakfast!