Health Tips: 10 Junk Food Alternatives That Can Change Your Fitness | Health
The taste of junk food can be so tempting, however, if you’re looking to get in shape, you’ll need to find a way to control those cravings. While it’s totally okay to indulge in what you enjoy once in a while, making healthier food choices and smarter behavioral strategies can go a long way in changing your fitness game.
We live in a time where junk food is not just a trend, but for many it can be a means to an end due to its rewarding nature when consumed and its accessibility. Every day someone is launching new mouth watering junk food concepts and this type of food is addictive because the levels of sugar, salt and fat trigger the pleasure points in our brain called “specific sensory satiety” – the causal effect that leaves you craving for more!
While willpower is great, complete abstinence can often lead to bingeing at a later stage and that’s where finding suitable alternatives comes in – to help you satisfy your cravings in the smartest way. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr. Manan Vora, sports medicine expert and orthopedic surgeon, revealed a list of 5 junk foods and their substitutes:
1. Kale chips instead of potato chips – At the end of the day, what you really crave is that crunch. Replacing potato chips with kale chips not only provides the crunch, but adds nutritional value to your food selection. Additionally, kale chips will contain fewer grams of fat. Baking the fries and adding salt and pepper to them is also an option. The key with fries is portion control, we often get carried away once we start eating them, so it’s important to decide on the quantity in advance and only eat a quantity.
2. Dark chocolate instead of chocolate – The more chocolate is processed, the more it loses the qualities that make it healthy in the first place. Many of the benefits of chocolate come from the flavanols (phytonutrients found in cocoa), which have antioxidant effects and a very bitter taste, but because it is fermented, alkalized and roasted to help neutralize this taste, these flavanols begin to disappear. Since dark chocolate contains at least 35% cocoa, it retains more of its health benefits than milk chocolate, which only contains less than 10% cocoa, making it the better choice to consume.
3. Homemade smoothies instead of milkshakes – A great trait of smoothies is that you can slip almost any fruit and many vegetables into them and still taste great. Studies show that eating enough fruits and vegetables every day reduces the risk of chronic disease and helps you maintain a healthy body weight. Plus, the smoothies will also be loaded with fiber, which is great for your overall health.
4. Lemon water instead of soda – Lemon water is a refreshing drink and an easy way to add some vitamin C and antioxidants to your diet. Adding a splash of lemon to your water can make the water more appealing to drink, which could help you cut down on sugary drinks and fruit juices. Lemon water can help improve digestion and even aid weight loss.
5. Baked Vegetarian Fries Instead of French Fries – Basic vegetable fries are spears or quarters of cut vegetables coated in a light coating of oil and salt, then cooked at high heat. The fries will be soft on the inside with a crispy, crunchy exterior. Try them with carrots and sweet potatoes.
Saying that junk food is designed to be easily accessible, appealing and ambrosial, physiotherapist Dr. Rebecca Pinto highlighted why one should never want to switch to healthier options. Well, your love for junk food is directly proportional to the risks of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. So she listed 5 junk food substitutes you need to try:
1. French fries or baked sweet potato fries? – Instead of choosing to eat ready-to-cook crispy “fry” potato slices, you can bake your own batch at home that doesn’t even contain harmful preservatives and will give you the same flavor as regular fries. All you have to do is take just 10 minutes to toss sweet potato slices with salt, pepper, paprika and coconut/extra virgin olive oil and cook them in a preheated oven for 20 minutes; by the time you even finish maybe 2 items on your to-do list, you’ll have a batch of fresh, healthy fries that are good for your heart, soul, and body.
2. Cookies or homemade granola bars? – Now, if you have a sweet tooth, don’t worry, choosing to get in shape doesn’t have to bother you at all. You can easily make granola bars at home that will satisfy your cookie cravings. All you need is granola, almond/peanut butter, cinnamon, salt, your choice of nuts, dried fruit, and honey; mix it all up in your grinder, put it in a container and let it sit for an hour and voila, you can chop into the mix and consume your bars as you please without any guilt.
3. Chicken wings or Tandoori roasted cauliflower bites? – Yes! You read correctly ! Tandoori roasted cauliflower bites are just as tasty as chicken wings. If you make them at home, the recipe is the same, with just one replacement ingredient and a world of difference in your diet.
4. White bread or multigrain bread? – This one is a very obvious choice that you may already be aware of. Multigrain bread offers a wider range of benefits compared to your white bread made from wheat flour, known for its risks of weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and of hypercholesterolemia.
5. Chips in Makhana – Makhana, when roasted in ghee and salt, will give you the “sensory specific satiety” of chip consumption that I mentioned earlier. As natural as it is to crave junk food, there are always healthy alternatives you can opt for to replace your junk consumption and change your fitness game.