Even for the most disciplined of us, completely cutting out junk food is nearly impossible. Research done by the University of Waterloo suggests that our brain actually works less effectively when we eat junk. If you’re looking to transform your mind and your body, this list can help you. Here are five healthy substitutes for junk food.
- Roasted Sweet Potato Coins
Next time you have the urge to swing by the fast food drive-thru for some greasy french fries, which are filled with salt and saturated fats, whip up a quick batch of nutritious sweet potato coins instead. These orange tubers are great natural sources of beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin C, among other nutrients. As a bonus, dip these in a low-fat mixture of sour cream and herbs for an extra delicious treat that your waistline will thank you for.
- 70% Dark Chocolate
We’ve all been there. You just finished lunch, and there it is: a glistening piece of frosted chocolate cake displayed prominently in the front window of the local bakery. Filled with hydrogenated oils (horrible for your heart) and loaded with extra calories from sugar, dairy and wheat, the tempting cake is suddenly not so tempting.
On the other hand, 70% cocoa dark chocolate boasts healthy benefits including fiber, iron and even selenium – a common deficiency in modern humans. Dark chocolate also hosts powerful antioxidants, protecting your heart against cardiovascular disease. And if that isn’t enough, it helps our skin, protecting it from the harmful effects of the sun and making it look younger.
- Oatmeal with Cinnamon
It might seem easy to pour a quick bowl of cereal in the morning, but it’s not the best choice. Just because it says “healthy” or “high fiber” on the box, doesn’t mean it isn’t jam packed with sugar and empty carbohydrates – both of which leave you feeling tired and bloated.
The better option is to make a quick bowl of instant oats (just as easy) with water or milk, topped with some ground cinnamon. Just 3 grams of oatmeal a day can show improvement in cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels are evened out over time with enough consumption. The cinnamon adds flavor and even boosts your metabolism, adding further to the benefits.
- Pita Bread with Hummus
Hardly anyone has the delusion that potato chips, with their trans fats, extreme levels of sodium and shockingly high level of fat are actually good for them. Nonetheless, you’ve likely succumbed to the need for salty carbohydrates. And you’re not alone.
But next time, ditch the bag of belly bloaters for a healthier alternative. Pita bread has about half the calories of traditional potato chips, making it an easy recommendation as a substitute. It also pairs well with hummus – a healthy concoction of chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, and a dash of salt. Together, they’ll hit all those little flavor spots without increasing your clothing size.
- Organic Plain Greek Yogurt with Blueberries
Sometimes we get a craving for a smooth, creamy treat. And what’s the first that comes to mind? Ice cream. Unfortunately, that provides nothing but an impending energy crash, as it’s laced with enough sugar to tranquilize a horse. No need to mention its inherent fattening effects.
For a yummy, creamy dairy substitute, serve up some organic plain yogurt. Yogurt is not only delicious, but its probiotics are fantastic for your digestive health. Probiotics increase your levels of healthy bacteria for a gut system that’s cleaner and more efficient. Greek yogurt is also great for your blood pressure, as it contains high levels of magnesium, potassium and calcium.
It may come no to surprise that adding blueberries to the mix brings sweetness to the flavor profile. But these antioxidant rich fruits also help brain, nervous system and even DNA strength. Your body’s cells use these antioxidants to fight disease and optimize mental acuity. Blueberries are even low on the glycemic index (GI), meaning the sugars and carbs they carry won’t add so much to your overall fat storage.
The world is experiencing a health revolution. In the battle to achieve better nutrition and overall well-being, more people than ever are making the switch to healthier options. Cravings for junk food will never go away entirely, but these healthy substitutes are amazing alternatives to common snacks. Hopefully, this list has given you more inspiration to make nutritious choices that will leave you feeling and looking better than ever.