6 Simple and Healthier Picnic Food Swaps


Grandparents And Grandchildren Enjoying Picnic Together Pic: Istockphoto

The weather is glorious and summer has officially begun! It’s time to dig out the picnic hamper and enjoy days out with friends and family. We’ve asked two nutritionists to give us their top food swaps so we can ditch sugar-laden food in exchange for a wholesome and healthy picnic basket.

White → Wholemeal

Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading nutritionist and author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar suggests, “Swap to whole grain alternatives that release energy slowly. The carbohydrates in wholemeal bread are broken down slowly over several hours and so do not give any sudden flooding of sugars into the bloodstream. Also, this gradual release helps you to feel fuller for longer, suppressing your appetite and stopping you craving sweet foods because you are not on the blood sugar rollercoaster.”

Wholemeal sandwich Pic: Istockphoto

Pic: Istockphoto

Milk Chocolate → Raw Chocolate

Ditching the milk chocolate in favour of raw cacao can have a big effect on curbing your sugar hits. Nutritionist and fitness instructor, Cassandra Barns, says, “Cacao itself is actually a super food – it’s high in minerals such as magnesium and, particularly in its raw form, is rich in antioxidant flavonols too. And if you go for a dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao, it’s relatively low in sugar. OMBAR’s 90% raw cacao bar (RRP £1.99, Ocado) gives you a little lift without the sugar rush.”

Your Usual Tipple → Gluten Free Beer

Even if you’re not gluten intolerant, switching to gluten free beer such as CELIA Lager (RRP £2.49, Ocado) can be a healthier alternative to a normal sugary option. Organic, suitable for vegans and naturally carbonated, CELIA provides a subtle fizz without the bloated feeling associated with drinking lager. If you don’t want alcohol there’s nothing nicer than ice cold still or carbonated water – refreshing and thirst-quenching.

Bread sticks → Carrots

“We should actually be eating more vegetables than fruit! We’ve all been told told to ‘eat our greens’ but it is actually better to ‘eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables’ because different antioxidants are found in differently coloured foods. For example, green leafy vegetables, berries, carrots, beetroot and so on all contain different antioxidants,” explains Dr Glenville. So, increase your vegetable intake by packing carrots and other veg instead of bread sticks for your hummus.

Hummus dip with a variety of fresh vegetables Pic: Istockphoto

Pic: Istockphoto

Sweets → Fruit

Five-a-day is so old news – we’re now talking about 10-a-day. A study found that a fruit and vegetable intake that is above the usual five-a-day can help us live longer. With this in mind, ditch the bag of sweets for a packet of delicious strawberries. Fruit contains the natural sugar, fructose, which is a better alternative to sweets that are full of artificial sugar and chemicals. You might even find a farm on your travels to buy freshly-picked treats to add to your picnic spread, or look for local fruit in the supermarket. Delicious!

Crisps → Nairn’s Snackers

If crisps are your downfall then go for a non-baked and low-calorie option, such as Nairn’s Gluten Free Snacker’s (RRP 40p, available at Sainsbury’s). “Oats provide slower-releasing carbohydrates and are high in fibre. The fact that these snacks are baked rather than fried means you’re avoiding the overload of unhealthy fats and additional calories from crisps, too,” explains Cassandra. These bite sized oat snacks come in three flavors; cheese, salt and vinegar and paprika – just pick your favourite!

The best picnic locations…

Allison Hay

I joined the My Weekly team eight years ago, and I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazine. I manage the digital content for the brand, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters. I also work for Your Best Ever Christmas - perfect as it's my favourite time of year!