Eating a balanced diet is a key part of a healthy lifestyle. And whether your goals are related to health or weight loss, there are plenty of quick and easy diet swaps that can help to boost your health and cut calories.

Even better, with these simple swaps, you won’t have to compromise on taste.

With that said, here are 15 quick and easy diet swaps for a healthier lifestyle.

1. Choose your condiments wisely

Choose your condiments wisely

When it comes to cutting back calories, condiments are often overlooked. However, since many are high in calories, making mindful swaps or controlling portion sizes of the condiments you use can go a long way in establishing a healthier diet.

For example, swapping out Hellman’s Real Mayonnaise for the ‘Lighter’ version would save you around 70 calories per tablespoon. And replacing Heinz Original Tomato Ketchup with the ‘No Added Sugar and Salt’ version would reduce your salt and sugar intake by around 3g per tablespoon.

If you use condiments regularly, these differences quickly add up, so it’s no wonder that paying attention to your condiments is considered one of the best weight loss tips. For more ideas, have a read of these 20 healthy condiment swaps from Healthline.

2. Swap white potatoes for sweet potatoes

Swap white potatoes for sweet potatoes

While both are similar in their calorie, protein, and carb content, sweet potatoes are generally healthier than regular potatoes.

This is partly due to their high vitamin A content (which is important for cell growth and vision). For example, 100g of sweet potato offers 107% of the daily vitamin A value, while regular potatoes offer just 0.1%!

Sweet potatoes also have a lower glycemic index, which means they’re less likely to cause blood sugar levels to spike than regular potatoes, and can therefore be a useful diet addition for those with diabetes.

To start making your own delicious sweet potato wedges, curries, or stews, check out these healthy sweet potato recipes from BBC Good Food.

3. Use Greek yoghurt as a substitute

Use greek yoghurt as a substitute

When it comes to a healthy diet, greek yoghurt really is a hero product. Not only is it low in calories and high in protein, but it’s also delicious and extremely versatile.

Greek yoghurt can be used to replace products like sour cream, butter, and mayonnaise. For example, replacing sour cream with 0% fat Greek yoghurt saves around 140 calories per 100g. For more information about how you can use yoghurt as a substitute in recipes, Skinny Taste has some great ideas.

Greek yoghurt can also be enjoyed for breakfast or as a healthy snack. It’s especially delicious topped with fresh berries and muesli. Hopefully you’ll find some inspiration in this list of Greek yoghurt breakfast bowls from Modern Honey.

4. Swap sugar for cinnamon

Swap sugar for cinnamon

Sugar is one of the main causes of obesity, diabetes, and dental issues in the UK. But those with a sweet tooth will know how tricky it can be to cut down.

Cinnamon is a great sugar substitute that many people find tastes just as good – if not better. Yet, it contains fewer calories (six calories per teaspoon rather than 16) and provides various health benefits. It’s known to reduce blood sugar, control cholesterol, and help manage diabetes.

To satisfy your sweet tooth, have a read of these 5 effective ways to use cinnamon in your diet from NDTV Food. You might also be interested in our article; 9 simple ways to cut back on added sugar.

5. Use cooking spray instead of oil

Use cooking spray instead of oil

There are various benefits of using cooking spray instead of cooking oil. Cooking spray contains significantly lower calories than cooking oil, and food cooked in it will contain fewer free radicals (unstable atoms that can damage cells) and be less greasy.

Plus, it’s a lot more difficult to overuse cooking spray than it is to over-pour cooking oil. Therefore, making swaps like this can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and high cholesterol.

You can also find cooking sprays in a range of flavours – including garlic, butter, and chilli – so you won’t have to compromise on taste. You can browse cooking sprays like Fry Light on Amazon.

6. Choose fresh fruit over dried

Choose fresh fruit over dried

While dried fruit offers the same amount of nutrients as fresh fruit, the main difference lies in its calories and sugar content.

Because dried fruit loses water and volume during the drying process, the nutrient, calorie, and sugar content becomes concentrated. This means that you’d consume significantly more calories eating a handful of dried fruit than you would a handful of fresh fruit. For example, there are only 20 calories per ounce of fresh grapes, but around 85 calories per ounce of raisins.

This doesn’t mean you have to cut dried fruit out of your diet entirely if you enjoy it – but it’s worth being mindful of portion sizes to make sure you’re not eating excess calories.

7. Consider making your own popcorn

Consider making your own popcorn

Popcorn is a high-fibre snack that can be kept relatively low-calorie. But what’s often forgotten is that for this to be true, the popcorn has to be prepared correctly.

Health-wise, air-popped, lightly seasoned popcorn is the best option. So this means ditching the butter, toffee, and microwave popcorn bags which can quickly turn popcorn into an unhealthy snack. In fact, one large bucket of salted popcorn at the cinema contains over 1,200 calories!

A 30g portion of air-popped popcorn, on the other hand, contains between 120 and 150 calories. And, due to its high-fibre and low-fat content, air-popped popcorn has been linked to a lowered risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other health conditions.

This guide from Amy’s Healthy Baking provides instructions on how to make stovetop air-popped popcorn.

8. Be savvy with your ice cream choices

Be savvy with your ice cream choices

Ice cream is a go-to dessert for many people, and the good news is that you can enjoy it without worrying about the calories.

Brands like Halo Top, for example, have a wide range of delicious low-calorie ice cream flavours – from chocolate brownie to caramel macchiato. With entire tubs (473ml) clocking in at just 270-360 calories, these contain around half the calories of regular ice cream. They’re also lower in sugar and fat, and higher in protein.

To help you decide which flavour to try, you can browse these 18 healthy ice creams from Origym.

9. Swap fatty meat for lean protein sources

Swap fatty meat for lean protein sources

Protein is essential for any diet because we need it to build muscle, repair tissue, and maintain bone health. However, some high-protein foods – for example, sausages and processed meats – are also high in saturated fat, so over-consuming them can increase the risk of heart disease.

Therefore, choosing lean protein sources – such as chicken breast, turkey, beans, greek yoghurt, tuna, and tofu – is beneficial when it comes to health and weight loss. It’s also worth avoiding skin-on meat where possible as the skin can account for around 80% of the meat’s fat content.

10. Swap distractions for mindful eating

Swap distractions for mindful eating

Many of us tend to multitask while we eat, but research has shown that not paying attention to your food can cause overeating. This scientific review found that distracted eating caused people to eat more in the moment and also significantly increased the amount they ate later that day.

Eating without distractions encourages mindful eating (being aware of what you’re eating and how it tastes) – a technique shown to promote weight loss, reduce binge eating, and improve digestion. This study on mindful eating among obese people resulted in an average weight loss of 26 pounds (12kg) over six months, with no weight regain in the following three months.

You can find out more in our beginner’s guide to mindful eating.

11. Try using a spiralizer

Try using a spiralizer

If you’re looking to cut the calories and follow a lower-carb diet, a spiralizer could make things easier for you. Low-calorie alternatives to regular pasta or rice can be made using a spiralizer. ‘Zucchini noodles’ and ‘cauliflower rice’ have become popular in recent years.

These veggie alternatives kick the calories out the door, with 100g of zoodles (zucchini noodles) containing 16 calories, as opposed to the 370 calories in the same amount of uncooked spaghetti.

Spiralizers are available to buy on Amazon. And you can find cooking inspiration in these 10 healthy meals that use a spiralizer from Inspiralized or these easy and healthy zucchini recipes from Good Housekeeping. The courgetti and meatballs are a must-try!

12. Consider swapping to dairy-free milk

Consider swapping to dairy free milk

Dairy-free milks have become increasingly popular in recent years. And it’s not only vegans and those who are lactose-intolerant who can reap the benefits.

Highly nutritious and lower in calories than regular cow’s milk, dairy-free milks (not including tinned coconut milk) can be a great aid for general health and weight loss.

Unsweetened almond milk, for example, clocks in at just 15 calories per 100ml – while the same amount of semi-skimmed cow’s milk contains 50 calories. Almond milk is also rich in protein, calcium, and vitamin E. Just be sure to buy unsweetened versions to avoid unnecessary sugar consumption.

For an in-depth comparison between the different types of milk, you might find our article on the subject useful.

13. Be mindful of the calories in alcohol

Be mindful of the calories in alcohol

Alcohol is a source of empty calories – meaning that while it contains calories, it doesn’t provide any real nutrition. Alcohol also disrupts our metabolism and causes blood sugar levels to drop. This can make you feel hungry, even if you’ve already eaten plenty during the day.

That being said, while excessive consumption of alcohol can be damaging to your health, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a drink from time to time – as long as it’s in moderation.

However, if weight loss is your goal, it’s worth being aware of the calories in your drinks. For example, a classic pina colada cocktail contains around 530 calories, so choosing lower calorie options – such as a gin and slimline tonic or a light beer – could save you around 400 calories per drink.

For more tips on making healthier drink choices, you might want to check out our article on the subject.

14. Make ‘open’ sandwiches

Make 'open' sandwiches

If you’re looking to reduce your lunchtime calories, consider cutting your bread count in half, by making open sandwiches.

Removing a piece of bread from your sandwich can cut around 90 calories and leave space for extra low-calorie toppings.

Equally, if you’re often still hungry after lunch, making an open sandwich with two slices of bread can trick your brain into seeing double the amount of food on your plate. It should also take you longer to eat it too, as you’ll eat each side separately, giving your brain more time to signal to your stomach that you’re full.

Why not try making some of these delicious open sandwiches from Food & Wine?

15. Swap salt for herbs and spices

Swap salt for herbs and spices

While using salt in moderation isn’t usually a concern, excess salt intake is linked to high blood pressure, weight gain, and health conditions like obesity and heart disease.

To reduce your salt intake, try using herbs and spices to add flavour to your food instead. From garlic and lemon juice to black pepper and paprika, not only do these substitutes taste great, but they also bring a range of health benefits.

Garlic, for example, has been shown to lower blood pressure and promote heart health, while black pepper can decrease inflammation linked with conditions like heart disease and cancer.

For more ideas, check out these 18 flavourful salt alternatives on Healthline’s website.

Final thoughts…

Eating a balanced diet is important for a healthy lifestyle. Too often people are led to believe that to successfully cut down on calories and eat a healthy diet, they have to sacrifice fun and flavoursome foods. Luckily, this isn’t the case.

Reducing your intake of saturated fat, sugar, salt, and excess calories through simple diet swaps can make all the difference. Not only can it reduce your risk of developing conditions like heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, but it’ll hopefully leave you feeling happier and healthier as a result.

For more tips and advice on making healthier food choices, you can visit the diet and nutrition section of our website. Or, why not see if there are any healthy cooking demonstrations coming up on Rest Less Events?

What are your favourite diet swaps? Have you tried making any healthy swaps recently? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.