Some people resort to “emotional eating” whenever they feel stressed, worried, or even happy and elated. And while there is generally no problem in doing it from time to time, frequent emotional eating or“stress eating” could pose some health concerns.
This is because, on many occasions, we tend to choose junk foods over healthy food choices. The problem with junk foods is that they are mostly low in essential nutrients, but are high in saturated fat, added salt, and added sugars. In this article, we’ll discuss the healthy swaps for junk foods to help us satisfy our cravings without sacrificing our health.
Craving for Potato Chips
When you find yourself craving for the crunchiness of potato chips and nachos, try instead to look for crunchy veggies. Why not try:
- Bell peppers
Slice these veggies and pair them up with a homemade dip and you’ll be able to satisfy your crunchy cravings. Many Filipinos also swap potato chips for sweet kamote chips.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for nachos and potato chips because you want something salty, you can try baked potato wedges. Instead of salt, you can season them with other herbs.
Craving Pizza and Burger
It’s hard to find healthy swaps for junk foods if we want to eat a burger or pizza. After all, many of us consider them super tasty and filling. However, a typical burger is loaded with calories and pizzas often have a lot of carbs and fat.
Instead of processed patties, try to use chicken breasts. Instead of frying, you can bake or grill them to get rid of the excess oil. You can also shred the grilled or baked chicken breast for your version of pizza using whole wheat pita pockets.
Finally, aside from chicken, don’t forget that you can also use extra-lean ground beef and ground turkey.
Craving Ice Cream
Are you craving for something sweet and creamy? If you’re thinking of ice cream, consider all the sugars and fats it contains.
According to experts, if you crave ice cream, you can go for a low-fat or fat-free frozen yogurt. Most yogurts are rich in probiotics which are good for digestion, and if you add chunks of fresh fruits into the mix, you will have an added dose of vitamins and minerals in your creamy snack.
Experts also suggest that instead of ice cream, you can also go for a fruit smoothie made with low or fat-free milk.
Craving Baked Goodies
Who doesn’t like the sweetness of baked goodies like muffins, cakes, and cookies? If you have a sweet tooth, you might want to consider baking your own goodies using healthier ingredients.
For instance, you can work on baking cookies and muffins using whole grain ingredients like oats. And then you can add some nuts and seeds to make them tastier. For cakes, you can go for a whole wheat banana version.
Craving for Candy
Again, the problem with junk foods like candies is that they offer almost no nutritional value. The good news is it’s not that hard to find a healthy alternative for them.
If you’re craving for something sweet that you can easily pop into your mouth, why not try dried fruits? There are dried mangoes, apples, or cherries available in the market. Doctors also recommend goji berries because they are packed with a lot of nutrients.
Craving for Chocolate
You might be asking, is it necessary to find healthy swaps for junk foods like chocolates? Well, if you only enjoy chocolates from time to time, there might be no problem. But if you find yourself reaching for one bar after another, you might need to find a healthier replacement. What are the options?
First, go for dark chocolate. Unlike milk or white chocolate, dark chocolate contains a lot of nutrients including magnesium, iron, fiber, zinc, potassium, and phosphorus. It also has a lot of antioxidants.
Next, you can purchase some unsalted trail mix. These are nuts and seeds that have bits and pieces of chocolate chips in them. And of course, you can also prepare fresh fruits and then drizzle them with dark chocolate syrup.
Craving for Sodas and Milkshakes
The problem with junk foods like sodas (soft drinks) and milkshakes is that they contain a lot of added sugars. Thus, if you crave a cold, sweet drink, consider a fruit smoothie instead. They are also cold and sweet, but the sweetness is due to their natural sugars. Furthermore, you can customize your smoothie depending on your preference in fruits.
Additionally, don’t forget that you can simply extract fruit juices by using a juicer. Add some ice cubes to your juice, and you now have a cold, sweet drink.
Finally, if you find yourself wanting a bottle of beer, remember that you can have a glass of fresh lime juice, instead. If you really crave something alcoholic, you can go for red wine. Several studies conclude that drinking red wine, especially with meals, have more cardiovascular benefits than beer.
Additional Reminders on Healthy Swaps for Junk Foods
Aside from replacing junk foods with their healthier versions, you can also make better dietary choices by:
- Choosing brown rice instead of white rice. They contain higher amounts of fiber but have lower calories.
- Eat whole-wheat pasta instead of white pasta. If you can, try to look for brands of pasta that have Omega-3 fatty acids in them.
- Use skim or low-fat milk for baking to reduce fats and calories. Additionally, you can also use these kinds of milk when preparing cream-based soups.
If you want to find healthy swaps for junk foods, consider meal prepping. When you prepare your meals in advance, you’ll be able to plan and choose healthier ingredients. If your goal is to lose weight, meal prepping can also help you count macros and calories while you are planning and plating.
Learn more about Healthy Eating here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.