"Junk food" is really what it is: food that has low to no nutritional value. It is highly addictive, no thanks to a number of food additives engineered to increase a person's cravings, usually for artificial sugar and salt, and for certain flavorings. Basically, they are like legal drugs that make you feel good but you have crashing after a few minutes.
Yuck. Why bother with them, right? But, damn, they do sure taste awesome, and they're great to eat alongside your favorite movie or during girls' night in.
The good news is: You can train your palette to go for healthier "junk food" alternatives. There are varieties of quick snack food that satisfy junk food cravings for crunch and saltiness, and in moderation, they are actually good for you.
Swap potato chips for veggie crisps.
Veggie crisps (like those from Founding Farmers) satisfy that crunch craving, salt craving, and the feeling of having a quick "snack from a pack." Unlike potato chips (which are filled with trans fat and contain large amounts of sodium), veggie crisps are seasoned only with sea salt (the purest form of salt), and bursting with natural flavors of veggies. It takes some getting used to after our palettes have been numbed by the starchy, saltiness of potato chips, but guess what? At least you're taking in nutrients with each bite!
Swap gummy bears for natural gummy treats.
Yes, we know it's all nostalgic and reminiscent of our childhood to load up on gummy worms and gummy bears and taffy. But all you're really getting from each pop is a large helping of high-fructose corn syrup, a known cancer culprit. If you must have sweets, at least switch to Jealous Sweets, which are made from pure natural fruit juices, and contain no hidden ingredients. Anyway, you'll not need a lot, since natural sugars don't cause an addictive rampage, so you're good with just a few pieces.
Swap crackers for nutrient-dense biscuits.
Soda crackers and other simple carb-based biscuits are like paper to a bonfire, when it comes to giving you a sustained energy boost. Think about it: What burns up faster, a piece of paper or a piece for firewood? Yes, the paper burns faster, and in the same way when you eat a crack or biscuit made from white flour, you'll feel hungrier sooner and end up eating more. But healthy biscuits (like Rude Health's Oaties or Dao's vegan biscuits) are hardy, and filled with a bulk of ingredients that encourage your body to burn the calories for longer. They're likened to firewood: They fill your body up and take a long time to "burn" out.
Other healthy swaps you can make
- Swap oil-popped or microwave popcorn for air-popped corn seasoned with sea salt.
- Swap salted, pre-flavored nuts with raw ones, and place these on a baking sheet with salt & spices instead, then baking them to "roast" them in the natural flavors.
- Swap white corn tortillas for blue or red corn variants (the less ingredients, the better. Read the label for organic options, if possible)
- Swap dehydrated or dried fruit for freez-dried fruits
Whether it's a sweet tooth or a savory one that you want to satisfy, there are healthier alternatives around.