WHAT if you didn't have to go on a rigid diet to shed kilograms, just make some simple food swaps...
That's the concept behind a new book, The Food Swap Diet, by author Peta Bree, who has degrees in nutrition and sports science.
Packed with suggestions for swapping diet-sabotaging foods with waistline-friendly options, it's a practical guide to shaving kilojoules from your diet without going hungry or skipping meals.
"Where The Food Swap Diet differs from other diets is in its free rein: no food is banned," says Peta.
"What matters is that you make wiser choices each time you eat breakfast or lunch a snack or a restaurant meal."
Food swapping is an approach that suits all lifestyles, whether you are a busy mum who never has time to prepare meals for herself, a stressed-out office worker who eats on the run, or someone who simply feels that they have been losing the battle of the bulge for way too long, she says.
In The Food Swap Diet, Peta makes suggestions for every eating opportunity of the day - breakfast, coffee break, lunch on the run, ready meals, snacking, eating out and even drinks.
While some of it is more British than Australian (and calories are used as measurement rather than kilojoules), there's plenty of good advice about food types and food choices including breakdowns of fats, sugar and salt in specific foods.
Peta's eating out section is particularly good, covering everything from Chinese to Indian to burgers and fish and chips to pizza.
Pizza is one of the most popular takeaways in Australia.
In fact, if you had shares in Dominos, you'd be laughing all the way to the bank.
But this popular takeaway can also be a health and diet nightmare with ingredients including processed meats full of preservatives, potentially carcinogenic nitrates and full fat cheeses.
To make it a healthier option, Peta suggests avoiding stuffed crusts and deep-pan bases, choosing vegetable toppings over meat and extra cheese toppings, checking out seafood options and steering clear of starters such as garlic bread, bruschetta, dough sticks and anything served with garlic butter.
Halving a pizza and filling the other half of your plate with a green salad is also smart, live longer advice.
Peta has plenty of other tips on the nutritional content of food, including swapping meals that may be equal in kilojoules but not in food value.
"As you will discover as you start food swapping, calories are not all that matter when it comes to losing pounds or maintaining a healthy weight," she says.
"The nutritional profile of a food - that is the amount of fat, salt and sugar it contains, as well as the levels of vitamins and minerals - play a crucial role in determining how quickly it settles as body fat and how easily it satiates us before the next meal."
Some healthy swaps
- Swap a blueberry muffin (1720kj) for a fruit scone (1350kj)
- Swap medium latte (900kj) for a black coffee (30kj)
- Swap a chicken caesar and bacon wrap (2500kj) for a chicken and salad wrap (1450kj)
- Swap a toasted club sandwich (2160kj) for a cream cheese and smoked salmon bagel (1700kj)