How can you resist? Junk food is so tasty because it has all the guiltily pleasurable ingredients we can never get enough of. But we also all know how excessive junk food can crush your weight loss goals and send you reeling back to poor health.
Lucky you; junk food was actually born from healthy, natural snacks, and you can still revert to those to make sure you stay on track toward weight loss success. Try some of the following alternatives to junk food next time you’re hit with a serious craving.
The Savory Stuff
We could all sit down with a tasty, salty snack and munch on it all day. The flavor is intense, and the fullness factor is low. That’s why you’ll want to start replacing your favorite savory treats with some of these healthy alternatives to junk food.
You can recapture the flavors of pizza by using its healthiest ingredients to create snack-sized vegetable substitutes. One healthy alternative for this junk food is mini pizzas with tomato sauce, vegan cheese, and mountains of eggplant and mushroom. You can also use crispy fried zucchini as a crust and top them with sauce and cheese to eliminate calories from bread.
A shockingly healthy and great-tasting food alternative to full-sized pizza is cauliflower crust pizza. When prepared correctly, the cauliflower crisps to a consistency that feels like a thin and crispy pizza dough. Throw your favorite toppings on the crust and half the cheese volume for a nutrient-rich pizza alternative you can snack on all day.
Mac & Cheese
Don’t worry, you don’t have to stop eating mac & cheese. There are lots of healthy foods that are great pasta alternatives and can be used to decrease calorie count and increase nutrient value. Try brown rice pasta or butternut squash in place of traditional macaroni and add cashew cheese to or replace some of your cheese with finely chopped nuts to create new and exciting flavors.
The potatoes inside your fries are great and full of nutrition, but the excessive amounts of oil needed to make them crispy is what clogs your arteries. For an alternative to this junk food, try baking some fries with coconut or olive oil instead. The flavor may surprise you, and the health benefits are numerous.
Chips violate a healthy diet just as much as fries. Fortunately, two surprisingly delicious snacks are increasing in popularity: kale chips and seaweed snacks. Both mimic the texture of potato chips, although they tend to be thinner, but provide incredible health benefits. Plus, companies are innovating flavors that are just as explosive as those of traditional potato chips.
Just like your mac & cheese, your favorite pasta dishes have vegetable substitutes that refresh the flavors you’re used to and let you use your favorite ingredients and toppings without skipping a beat.
The Sweet Stuff
You may not be able to marathon sweet snacks, but they’re great for hitting that powerful craving you feel throughout the day. Reduce your sugar and fat with some of these healthy alternatives for sweet junk food.
The answer to chocolate cravings is easy: switch milk chocolate with dark chocolate! Chocolate bars with a large percentage of cacao and desserts with plenty of cocoa powder help your body’s systems run smoothly. Plus, when you reduce the milk in the chocolate, you increase the value of the nutrients!
We’re lucky to live in a time with so many ice cream alternatives. Several newer companies are finding ways to make vegan ice cream that is physically light and provides full flavor and creaminess with a fraction of the calories.
If low-calorie ice cream isn’t the taste you’re looking for, you can try homemade vegan ice creams made with cashews or frozen bananas as well.
Candy doesn’t stack fat directly, but the insane amounts of sugar in most candy is highly likely to be stored as fat if you don’t use all of it immediately. That’s because candy uses added sugars that are digested and stored differently than natural sugars.
But natural sugar in grapes, strawberries, peaches, watermelon, and all of your favorite fruits provide energy in different ways that are far less likely to lead to obesity. For easy junk food substitutes that fill that sugary carving, freeze grapes and watermelon for delicious treats with amazing flavors that exceed their candy counterparts.
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 are perhaps the easiest to make and enjoy.
The Thirst Quencher
Beverages are an entrenched part of our culture and drive the way we live in a profound way. That means, unfortunately, that they also add a large amount of sugar to our diets. There are, however, plenty of healthy beverage alternatives with benefits rather than disadvantages.
You guessed it; flavored, sugared soda is the most outstanding offender of health in the beverage world. It’s not just the unique flavors of soda that are so tempting; the bubbles inside the drinks are also one of the largest draws.
If it’s the bubbles you crave, sparkling water now comes in a huge variety of unsweetened flavors that provide the essence of fruit with the health benefits of water. If you like bubbles with sugar, modern kombucha provides serious flavor with wonderful gastrointestinal benefits.
Keep It Consistent
When you make junk food substitutions, be sure to be disciplined about them. Replacing a single snack or meal with its healthy alternative has its benefits, but consistently replacing them every time you have a craving is the only way to reap the full list of health perks from each snack. You can also seek out a weight loss counselor to help you stick to your plans. Focus on your weight loss goals when you need motivation to break a junk food habit, and keep this list handy!