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Healthier food swaps

These simple food swap ideas can help cut down on sugar, salt and fat in your and your family's diet, plus discover easy ways to make a swap when you next shop.

Even just 1 or 2 everyday swaps can really make a difference and go a long way to making each day healthier – but the more you make, the better!

Breakfast swaps

Sugar and fat are the biggest things to watch out for at breakfast time – try some of these easy swaps, or see our breakfast recipes to help you start the day smart!

Unhealthy choice: chocolate rice pops

Swap from

  • Chocolate cereal

  • Frosted flakes

  • Honey crunch cereal

  • Croissants

  • Cereal bars

Healthier choice: wheat biscuit cereal with sliced bananas

Swap to

  • Wheat biscuit cereal

  • Shredded wholegrain cereal

  • No-added-sugar muesli

  • Porridge

  • Wholemeal toast

  • Plain natural yoghurt topped with chopped fruit

Lunchbox and lunchtime swaps

When lunchtime rolls around, it's easy to eat more sugar or salt than we might realise.

Try some of our simple swaps, and remember to check out our page for loads more lunchbox inspiration.

Unhealthy choice: a split-pot yoghurt with chocolate beads

Swap from

  • Split pot yoghurts and pudding pots

  • Cake bars and cereal bars

  • Muffins and chocolate

  • Crisps

  • Juice pouches and fizzy drinks

  • Tinned soup

  • Ham and cheese sandwiches

Healthier choice: a lower-sugar yoghurt, with raspberries and blueberries

Swap to

  • Lower-sugar fromage frais or plain natural yoghurt

  • Sugar-free jelly

  • A slice of malt loaf or a fruited teacake

  • Fresh or tinned fruit (in juice, not syrup)

  • Plain popcorn, plain rice cakes or raisins

  • No-added-sugar juice drinks, or water with berries and chopped fruit

  • Homemade spiced chicken and vegetable soup or harvest vegetable soup

  • Our delicious beefed up sarnies

Dinner swaps

Salt and saturated fat can really add up at dinnertime without us noticing – there can be a surprising amount of both in everyday foods.

Give some of these dinner swaps a go, or browse our dinner recipes for loads of tasty, healthier meal ideas.

Unhealthy choice: shop-bought or takeaway pepperoni pizza

Swap from

  • Sausages

  • Pizza

  • Salt and soy sauce

  • Ketchup

  • Brown sauce

  • Mustard

  • Gravy

Healthier choice: spagehetti bolognese with mushrooms and peppers

Swap to

Snack and pudding swaps

Whether it's fighting the after-school tummy rumbles or rounding off dinner with a tasty pud, sugar is the main watch-out here.

But even if they don't taste of it, some of these snack foods can contain a lot more salt (and fat) than you might realise too!

Give these easy swaps a go, then head to our healthier snacks page for loads more ideas, suggestions and tips.

Unhealthy choice: a chocolate cake bar

Swap from

  • Biscuits

  • Chocolate

  • Cake bars

  • Chocolate pudding pots

  • Doughnuts

  • Muffins

  • Crisps

  • Salted peanuts

  • Split-pot and higher-sugar yoghurts

Healthier choice: a slice of malt loaf, with sliced strawberries and banana

Swap to

  • A slice of malt loaf or fruited teacake

  • Fresh or tinned fruit (in juice, not syrup) or fruit salad

  • A scotch pancake or crumpet

  • Sugar-free jelly or lower-sugar custard

  • Crackers topped with lower-fat cheese

  • Bread or toast with lower-fat spread

  • A bagel topped with sliced banana

  • Plain popcorn or rice cakes

  • Unsalted mixed nuts

  • Chopped veg with lower-fat hummus

  • Lower-sugar yoghurts or lower-sugar rice pudding

Drink swaps

A quarter of the sugar kids have every day comes from sugary drinks – help them cut back by making these easy swaps, and remember to keep juice drinks to mealtimes only to help prevent tooth decay.

Unhealthy choice: a strawberry milkshake

Swap from

  • Cola and other fizzy drinks

  • Juice drinks

  • Milkshakes

  • Whole milk

Healthier choice: semi-skimmed milk

Swap to

  • Water

  • Sugar-free drinks

  • No-added-sugar drinks

  • Lower-fat milks

Brighten up water!

A glass of water with slices of orange, raspberries and blueberries added

Add a pop of colour with chopped fruits like frozen berries, kiwi and apple to make water taste and look interesting.

Or buy a plain re-usable water bottle and let your kids decorate it with some coloured markers. The more they like their bottle, the more likely they are to drink from it!

Sign up for Healthy Steps emails

Join Healthy Steps and set simple, easy-to-achieve goals and track your progress over 8 weeks of emails to help your family cut down on sugar, enjoy cooking together, get their 5 A Day and move more.

Make a swap when you shop

When it comes to cutting back on sugar, salt and saturated fat, here are a few quick tips and tricks you can try when you're next in the supermarket or shopping online to help you make healthier choices.

Scan the barcode

Use the free NHS Food Scanner app to find out what's really in the food you're buying and get swap suggestions while you're at the shelf!

Go for a Good choice

Picking products that have the "Good choice" badge on the packaging is a quick and easy way to decide what to buy.

Get the green light

Many items now have traffic light labelling on the packaging – go for products that have more greens, and cut down on ones with reds and ambers.

Check the label

If products don't have traffic lights, you can still compare amounts of sugar, salt or fat by looking at the amount per 100g on the nutrition information panel.

Download the free NHS Food Scanner app

With a speedy scan of your family's favourite foods, you can find healthier swaps for next time you shop.

It's as easy as scan, swipe, swap!

The nutrient data provided in the app is supplied by Brandbank and FoodSwitch