James Haskell: Food Swap Advice

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Sadly I have come to the end of my holidays, 11 months of training and playing and we are rewarded with just four weeks off! As you can imagine I made the most of it, eating and drinking whatever I wanted.

However this is not an option for everyone, so I have compiled my top five food and drink swaps for readers of The Sloaney, so that you can try and stick to a healthy lifestyle during your own holidays, or even just pick a slightly better option during everyday eating.


Out with: Crisps and salted nuts

These always go down well poolside, especially if you are at an exclusive resort, where the treats just keep coming! However, our diets actually have enough salt already, without shovelling extra handfuls of nuts into our mouths.

In with: Roasted corn and cayenne pepper

I would suggest that you go for unsalted or roasted nuts, like almonds, walnuts, monkey nuts (peanuts still in their shells) or pistachios. Something that I loved eating while I was away was roasted corn with cayenne pepper. The cayenne pepper acts as a natural fat burner and will help keep your metabolism firing.

Almonds are a healthier snack than some others

Almonds are a healthier snack than some others

Out with: Butter or margarine

It’s so nice to walk into a restaurant and gorge on piles of bread and butter. We have all been guilty of doing this, but for the most part, it is not great for you, especially if you have weight loss goals. Bread is a demon for lots of you out there wanting to get your weight under control.

In with: Olive Oil

Try using olive oil or olive paste with your bread instead. Cold olive oil is good for you; it is only when it’s used in cooking that it changes form. It is a key part of the Mediterranean diet and has lots of healthy properties. Olives contain good fats and we need these in our diet.

Fat helps metabolise fat, would you believe. If you want to be a super keeno, then have a small helping of coconut oil, which again is a great fat for your body. It is full of MCT’s which help with health, fat burning and keep your metabolism working. You can use it as a spread, to cook with and even have in your morning coffee. I have my own version of Extra Virgin coconut oil that you can get from my fitness site

Bin the butter

Bin the butter!

Out with: Wine and beer

It is fair to say that we all love an alcoholic beverage when we are enjoying our time off – some more than others! I know from my down time that after drinking more than normal it can make you bloated. Alcohol contains large amounts of sugar and can quickly pile on unwanted holiday weight. I am always looking for better healthier drinks, which don’t fill you full of sugar, don’t dehydrate you or give you a killer hangover.

In with: Vodka, lime and soda or tequila, grapefruit juice and soda water

I have found two drinks that are really good. The first is an old classic: vodka, fresh lime and soda. This is a drink that shouldn’t get you drunk too quickly and it will obviously keep you hydrated to some degree without much sugar. The other combination is something that I discovered on a recent holiday: tequila, grapefruit juice and soda water. The grapefruit juice contains a range of vitamins and it can also help lower cholesterol, reduce swelling and the soda water keeps you hydrated. This one of the best drinks around.

Vodka, lime and soda is a good option for drinking evenings

Vodka, lime and soda is a good option for those ‘drinking evenings’

Out with: Coffee and tea

After dinner it seems to be the done thing to have a cup of coffee or tea, even though you are about to go to bed. Although it’s a little bit mad to take a stimulant pre-rest, we all do it at times.

In with: Matcha green tea

This is a great replacement. It tastes really nice, helps burn fat, it is good for your tendons (perfect for me being a rugby player) and has a small amount of caffeine in it but not enough to send your heart racing. You can also go for the old classic of peppermint tea which aids in your digestion and, like green tea, has very little caffeine.

Coffee should not be drunk before bedtime

Coffee should not be drunk before bedtime

Out with: Chocolate and puddings

It is holiday time, so why not treat yourself to a nice desert! Once or twice is ok if you are not in the middle of a strict diet. I have a thing for American breakfasts; my downfall is pancakes the size of a porch step! If I am honest I would always train after a breakfast like this or the very least walk it off. Doing some sort of exercise after eating can lead to reducing the impact of a cheat meal. I don’t mean running around, but a walk or some light bodyweight work. Fitness guru Timothy Ferris has a really interesting chapter in his book the “The 24hr Body” about this subject and some helpful suggestions.

In with: Fruit

Instead of going for the sweet sugary option, how about having a portion of fruit? I know fruit contains sugar but it’s the lesser of two evils. You can of course treat yourself, but certainly not everyday and not at every meal. If you want something tasty and sweet then order a fruit platter. Most countries have a selection of fruit that you probably won’t even have tried before.

Swap the chocolate for a fruit salad

Swap the chocolate for a fruit salad

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