Eating well can be tough. Junk food is everywhere we look, and sometimes it can be hard to resist. So when it comes to changing your eating habits, it may be hard to know where to start. A great place is identifying your favourite junk food and exploring some similar, healthier alternatives. Cooking for yourself is also very important. That way you know exactly what you are eating, and you can stay in control. Here are a few common junk food alternatives to make healthy eating a breeze.
Potato chips are typically high in saturated fat and calories, and eating them regularly can contribute to obesity. Many chip brands are also deep fried, which means they contain trans fats, and as you may know, trans fats contribute significantly to high cholesterol.
Air-popped popcorn is a great alternative to potato chips. A typical serving of popcorn contains no trans fat, far less saturated fat, and fewer calories than chips. Baked tortilla chips are great substitute too. They contain less saturated fat, though they do still contain sodium. Unsalted whole-wheat pretzels are another option, as are baked vegetable chips like kale chips, sweet potato chips.
Most soft drinks are loaded with sugar, preservatives, caffeine, colourings, and other nasty artificial ingredients that are detrimental to your health in a number of ways. They are linked with kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, and should not be a part of a healthy balanced diet.
Obviously, water is the healthiest alternative, but if you are looking for a refreshing beverage that’s got a little more zing, try flavouring your water naturally with lemon, lime and other fruits or vegetables. For that fizzy kick, try adding these to a glass of soda water. Natural iced tea is another great option as many varieties are low in sugar and high in antioxidants.
Many processed chocolates (especially commercial brands you find in common supermarkets) contains fats and refined sugars, stimulants like caffeine and theobromine, and lots of calories (around 250 on average for a small bar).
If you’re a big fan of chocolate, but are concerned about the negative health benefits, there are a few very similar alternatives that you might want to give a try. For those that regularly use chocolate in cooking, cocoa powder is a fantastic substitute. One teaspoon contains around just 12 calories, and is low in cholesterol and sugar. Cacao nibs are another option. They are crunchy and taste similar to unsweetened chocolate, and they are low in calories, high in fibre, and rich in antioxidants. Dark chocolate is a healthier option too, but make sure you choose a variety that has over 70% cacao.
Many dressings are loaded with salt, MSG, sugar, and saturated fats, and when you include them in a salad it can counterbalance all the nutrients you are putting into your body.
Sometimes, keeping it simple is the best. An olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing is a brilliant addition to just about any leafy green salad. Olive oil contains healthy unsaturated fat, which when consumed in moderation is very good for you, and along with balsamic vinegar is low in cholesterol, calories, sodium and sugar.
French fries are one of the most delectable foods out there, but eating them comes at a cost. They are high in both saturated and trans fat, sodium, calories, and simple carbohydrates. There are a range of healthy alternatives that you can make at home. Experiment with other vegetables like sweet potato, butternut squash, zucchini, kale, asparagus, green beans, polenta and turnips. Simply drizzle them with olive oil, season and bake.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to substituting your favourite junk food for something healthier. There are countless options out there, and all it takes is a little research and a solid dose of willpower to kick your unhealthy habits.