Junk Food – 5 Healthy and Delicious Substitutes

It’s hard to avoid it. Fast-food restaurant are everywhere, junk food assaults us as we are checking out at the supermarket, and TV commercials are filled with ads for suboptimal “foods.” Unless you have a will of iron or have been on a healthy eating plan for a long time and just aren’t tempted by junk food, you may get cravings for some of those things occasionally. Here are some suggestions for healthy substitutions that still taste good.

  1. Pizza. If you really must have pizza, how about at least getting one with a whole grain crust? Some pizzerias will make one for you, or you can buy one from your health food market. Another option is whole wheat pita bread. Simply cover a pita–or as many as you need–with prepared tomato sauce and fresh veggies; sprinkle on some vegan Parmesan if you want that flavor. Bake until everything is nicely cooked. Homemade pizza is certainly the best and most delicious choice, but often pizza is a spontaneous kind of junk food and you just don’t want to take the time to make it from scratch.

  2. Potato chips and dip. When you’re relaxing on the weekend, maybe watching sports or a movie on TV, and you get a hankering for chips, consider low fat brown rice crackers or rice chips or pretzels and hummus or homemade guacamole. Some carrot and celery sticks will almost make this snack into a meal.

  3. Chocolate. People sometimes say that carob will make a good substitute for chocolate, but a serious chocoholic knows that only chocolate will satisfy this craving. Luckily, there’s a lot more healthy chocolate around these days than there used to be. Your best choice is dark, vegan chocolate. There are so many choices at the natural foods stores. You can even easily find organic chocolate. Check out the book Naked Chocolate by David Wolfe and Shazzie. It’s filled with information about the history and health benefits of chocolate, as well as recipes and lucious-looking photos. You won’t believe these amazing gourmet creations are all raw! One of my favorites when the weather is cold is Chocolate del Diablo–raw “hot” chocolate with a delicious kick.

  4. Candy. Stock up on plenty of healthy choices for when the candy urge hits you or your children. Instead of the refined-sugar-laden packaged junk food candies at the supermarket, try organic raisins or dates or other dried fruits. Take a date and stuff it with a walnut half or an almond, wrap individually in waxed paper and keep in the refrigerator. These can be easily packed into a lunch for school or work. Of course, there’s always fresh fruit… that’s the best.

  5. Ice cream. Ice cream might be a standard item in your freezer. How about buying sorbet next time? It could be that the frozen sweetness will be satisfying enough for you. One of my favorite cold treats is a bowl of frozen grapes. I purposely buy too many of them so I can freeze them. If you haven’t tried frozen grapes, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. If you have a Champion juicer, you can run frozen bananas through for a yummy soft-serve type of frozen treat.

The next time you go shopping, stock up on some of these foods so you can make a sane, healthy choice when the junk-food urge strikes. You won’t feel deprived if you can substitute something similar–sweet for sweet, salty for salty–and tasty. If you normally eat well and you do eat something you know isn’t the healthiest choice, don’t feel guilty. Just enjoy it and move on, knowing that you will make a healthy choice next time.