When people hear the word “diet”, they often begin to feel a little worried and immediately assume that they have to cut some of their favourite foods out entirely. However, this is not necessarily true. Rather than removing certain foods completely, the key towards a healthy, balanced diet involves making well-informed food swaps.

This way, you can still enjoy all the foods you love, just in much healthier forms. Over time, this will have positive effects on your body, helping to minimise the risk of health problems like obesity and diabetes.

If you aren’t sure about the kinds of swaps you should be making, here are a few to start with:

Swap butter for low-fat margarine

Butter is high in saturated fat, which can increase your risk of high cholesterol and blood pressure. Many people use butter as a way to add flavour and moisture to foods such as jacket potatoes and toast. Since these foods don’t taste as great without, simply swap the butter for low-fat margarine.

Many margarines are made using olive oil, which is found in many Mediterranean diets, and is said to be very healthy. Once you’ve made this swap, you will find that you don’t miss the taste of butter at all.

Swap white bread, pasta and rice for whole grain varieties

Carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet, but when eaten in abundance can lead to excessive weight gain. So while you may enjoy eating foods like white bread, pasta and rice, they aren’t doing you the world of good.

Instead of cutting them out of your diet completely, swap them for whole grain varieties. Wholemeal bread, whole wheat pasta and brown rice are significantly higher in fibre than their refined counterparts, meaning they are great for aiding digestive health, not to mention packed full of vitamins.

Some people often say that whole grains have more flavour than their unhealthier alternatives, so make the change today for the better.

Swap whole milk for soya or skimmed milk

When it comes to milk, it’s great to include it in your diet since it is a rich source of calcium – essential for the healthy development of bones and teeth.

While whole milk is said to be best for young babies who are transitioning from breastfeeding to cow’s milk, the health benefits in adulthood are not the same. This means that it’s better to drink skimmed or unsweetened soya or almond milk, as these contain much less fat and are still high in calcium.

Swap salted nuts for unsalted nuts

When it comes to snacking, it’s much healthier to eat nuts over a chocolate bar. However, you should be cautious when choosing which nuts to snack on. While you might think that the handful of peanuts you ate at lunchtime are working wonders on your body, if you chose the salted variety, the benefits aren’t quite as positive.

The salt coated on many shop-bought varieties of nuts can lead to an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke. It is a good idea, therefore, to snack on unsalted nuts, as these are unrefined and have natural health benefits.

Swap ice cream for frozen yoghurt

If you have an indulgent sweet tooth and love nothing more than tucking into a tub of ice cream, put it down and instead reach for frozen yoghurt. This contains fresh fruit and natural yoghurt – rather than cream – which contains much less fat and refined sugar. Don’t worry though, because it’s just as delicious!