How can you resist? Junk food is so tasty because it has all the tempting ingredients we can never get enough of—but we also know how eating excessive amounts of junk food can ruin your weight loss goals and send you back into poor health.
Luckily for you, junk food is easy to replace with healthy, natural snacks. Try the following healthy snack alternatives next time you’re hit with a serious craving to help you stay on track with your weight loss goals.
The Savory Stuff
We could all sit down with tasty, salty snacks and munch on them all day. Their flavor is intense, and they don’t make you feel full. That’s why you need to start replacing your favorite savory treats with some of these healthy versions of junk food that are low in calories.
Replicate pizza’s best flavors by using its healthiest ingredients to create snack-sized vegetable substitutes. Mini pizzas with tomato sauce, vegan cheese, and eggplant and mushroom toppings make a delicious alternative to one of our favorite junk foods. You can use crispy fried zucchini as a crust to eliminate calories from bread.
Cauliflower crust is another healthy and great-tasting alternative to pizza dough. When prepared correctly, the cauliflower crisps to a consistency that feels and tastes like thin pizza dough. Throw your favorite toppings on the crust (with half the amount of cheese) for a nutrient-rich pizza alternative you can snack on without shame. Click here for a list of pizza crust alternatives you’ll enjoy cooking and eating!
Mac and Cheese
Don’t worry, you don’t have to stop eating macaroni and cheese—there are lots of healthy pasta alternatives that are low in calories and high in nutrient value. Try brown rice pasta or butternut squash in place of traditional macaroni and add cashew cheese with finely chopped nuts to create new and exciting flavors.
Potatoes are very nutritious, but the excessive amount of oil needed to make them crispy clogs your arteries. Bake your fries in coconut or olive oil for a healthy alternative—their flavor may surprise you. Here’s a great recipe to get you hooked on healthy fries that will help you stay away from the oily and salty standard.
Oily chips violate a healthy diet just as much as oily fries. Fortunately, kale chips and seaweed snacks offer a delicious alternative: Both mimic the texture of potato chips, but they tend to be thinner and provide more health benefits. Kale and seaweed chips are so popular that major food brands started making them with the same explosive flavors as potato chips.
Along with mac and cheese, you can make other pastas with vegetable substitutes that provide just as much flavor as traditional pastas. Use your favorite ingredients and toppings over pasta alternatives to create an especially satisfying meal. Here are some of our favorite pasta alternatives:
- Spaghetti squash
- Eggplant lasagna
- Cabbage noodles
- Cauliflower couscous
- Onion noodles
The Sweet Stuff
Sweet snack alternatives are great for curbing the powerful cravings you feel throughout the day. Reduce your sugar and fat intake with some of these healthy alternatives to sweet junk food.
The answer to your chocolate cravings is easy: Switch from milk chocolate to dark chocolate! Chocolate bars and desserts with a higher cacao percentage help your body’s systems run smoothly. Besides that, when you consume chocolate without milk, you increase the value of the chocolate’s nutrients.
We’re lucky to live in a time when ice cream alternatives are commonplace. Several newer companies are finding ways to make vegan ice cream that’s still light, fluffy, creamy, and full of flavor—all for a fraction of the calories.
You can also try making your own vegan ice cream with cashews or frozen bananas. Click here for a list of delicious vegan ice cream recipes.
The high amount of sugar in most candy is likely be stored as fat if you don’t immediately burn it off. Candy uses added sugars that are digested and stored differently than natural sugars.
The natural sugar in grapes, strawberries, peaches, watermelon, and all your favorite fruits provides energy in a way that’s less likely to lead to obesity. For easy junk food substitutes that satisfy your sugar cravings, try freezing grapes or watermelon.
If you’re a pancake lover, you probably already know about banana pancakes. They are more flavorful than traditional pancakes, cook up just as fluffy, and absorb syrup just as deeply. Of all the junk food alternatives, banana pancakes might be the easiest to make and enjoy. If banana isn’t your favorite, try these other healthy pancake varieties:
- Coconut flour pancakes
- Oatmeal pancakes with nectarines and cherries
- Whole wheat yogurt pancakes
- Blueberry chia pancakes
- Almond flour pancakes
The Thirst Quencher
Americans love soda. Unfortunately, these beverages add a large amount of sugar to our diets. Thankfully, there are plenty of soda alternatives that provide more health benefits than their sugary counterparts.
Flavored soda is the most outstanding offender in the beverage world. Its unique flavors and bubbles are a tempting treat.
If it’s the bubbles you crave, drink more sparkling water instead. It now comes in a large variety of unsweetened flavors that mimic traditional soda flavors. If you still want a little sugar with your carbonated beverage, try drinking kombucha. It mixes serious flavor with wonderful gastrointestinal benefits.
Keep It Consistent
Make sure to be disciplined about eating the right foods. When you’re consistent with your new diet, you’ll reap the rewards faster and feel lighter and healthier. You can also learn about mindful eating practices and emotional eating to help yourself stay on track. If you’re having trouble sticking to your diet, seek help from one of our weight loss counselors for extra support and motivation. Keep this list handy as a constant reminder to incorporate more healthy alternatives to junk food into your diet.