Annelies Grimshaw’s simple swaps for a nutritious diet

We've often heard from the doc about the importance of eating well but we can all probably relate to this being easier said than done.  

Annelies Grimshaw, Director and Nutritionist at Key Nutrition and our go-to expert for everything from diet to cholesterol, knows that the less healthy options are usually very enticing, but she also knows a few handy tricks to help avoid those unhealthy options and pick up a healthier alternative instead. 

Here are some of her top tips for not just cultivating a healthy lifestyle (AKA, why healthy swaps are a great idea in the first place), but also how to implement them in your day-to-day life. 

Cultivating a healthy lifestyle 

The importance of creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle truly can’t be understated. 

Or as Annelies puts it, “a nutritious diet is a fundamental component of a healthy lifestyle and is crucial for maintaining optimal physical and mental wellbeing at every stage of life. It provides the body with the necessary building blocks for growth, repair, and function while reducing the risk of various diseases.”

The importance of a nutritious diet 

If maintaining a healthier lifestyle is one of your New Year resolutions for 2024, a nutritious diet will naturally play a big role in achieving this goal.

For example, “a nutritious diet, combined with regular physical activity, contributes to weight management. Maintaining a healthy weight is important for preventing a range of health issues, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and joint problems.”

Or perhaps you’re hoping to bolster your mental health? “Nutrition can have a significant impact on mental health. Nutrient-rich foods support brain function and can influence mood and cognitive performance. Adequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids, for example, has been linked to better mental health,” says Annelies. 

And of course, diet can even support us in the aging process. “As individuals age, nutritional needs may change. A balanced and nutritious diet can contribute to healthy aging by supporting bone health, cognitive function, and reducing the risk of chronic diseases associated with ageing.” 

Not to mention, a healthy diet is key for great gut health, which is especially important as we age. 

Easy and effective dietary swaps 

Dietary swaps are essentially taking something that’s not particularly healthy and swapping it out for an option that’s either good for you – or at least less unhealthy. 

Practical and tasty alternatives 

Annelies starts us off with some simple swapping rules to keep in mind for day-to-day improvements.

  • Always aim to make protein the main component of your meal (for the over 70s, The Nutrition Foundation recommends 81 grams for men and 57 grams for women per day). As we age, our protein needs increase even more due to sarcopenia.  Dish your plate up first with your protein source e.g. beef, fish, chicken, lamb, eggs, mince, etc. 
  • Swap low fat products for full fat products. Low fat products tend to contain more refined sugar. 
  • Swap refined carbohydrate sources for complex carbohydrates that contain more fibre to regulate your bowel motions. E.g fruit, vegetables, wholegrains like oats, quinoa, brown rice, etc. 
  • Only use extra virgin olive oil/coconut oil or butter to cook with. Do not cook with processed vegetable oils as these can cause a lot of inflammation in the body. 
  • Instead of starting your day with a cup of tea or coffee, swap for a large glass of water with a pinch of pink salt and a squeeze of lemon then follow with a cup of tea or coffee. 
  • Swap juice and fizzy drinks for water or flavoured soda water. 
  • Try not to drink coffee after 1pm, avoid any stimulants that may affect your sleep.  

Healthy dessert swaps 

The hardest swaps might come around dessert time, when you’ve had a fantastic balanced meal, and now you’re craving something a little sweet. 

If cheesecake is your Achilles’ Heel, Annelies suggests trying blueberry yoghurt bars. They’ve got the rich, creamy, fruity flavours of cheesecake, just without the excess sugar and fats. 

Or are you more of a biscuits-after-dinner aficionado? In this case, try a home-made protein ball recipe. This way, you’re adding some extra protein to your daily intake, you can minimise your sugar intake, and still hit that sweet craving without denying yourself a tasty treat. 

Nutrient-packed lunch and dinner alternatives 

Let’s take a look at Annelies’ suggestions from earlier and consider a few easy swaps that fit the bill – without making huge, unmanageable changes to your lifestyle. 

  • Quinoa or brown rice instead of white rice with your stir fries and curry dishes
  • Full fat yoghurt with fruit instead of a white bread sandwich for lunch 
  • Mashed cannellini beans instead of mashed potatoes (don’t knock it ‘til you try it!)
  • Crushed tomatoes with your choice of herbs instead of a pre-made pasta sauce with dinner.

Snack ideas for sustained energy 

Annelies explains “when choosing snacks, you want to make sure they are high in protein, which is the most satiating nutrient and will cause a stable release of protein into your bloodstream.” Here are her top four picks that are easy, high in protein and nutrient dense:

  • Boiled eggs 
  • Handful of nuts with a piece of fruit 
  • Protein smoothie 
  • Beef jerky

Simple dietary swaps and prioritising health is crucial to your overall wellbeing and longevity and is just one of the ways to improve your life and protect your future. 

 As you take these proactive steps toward a healthier life, this could be a great opportunity to explore options that could provide further protection and peace of mind for you and your loved ones. Learn more about how Seniors Life Insurance could help protect your family's financial future or get a quote today.


Disclaimer: Before starting any new diet and exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise and/or diet changes with them before beginning.