You know that sugary candy bars and fatty potato chips aren’t good for you, but that doesn’t mean they don’t taste good! You enjoy them, but somewhere in the back of your mind, you know they’re not the healthiest of options. And you might even feel guilty when you eat them.
But no one wants to feel guilty about what they’re eating. What fun is that? So, is staying healthy possible while eating junk food? Let’s find out.
Junk food tastes good, but it’s not a natural product. In fact, it’s been manufactured to taste good and to make you reach for more.
Many of your favorite junk food products create the perfect combination of fat, sugar, and salt to activate the pleasure and reward systems in your brain. And when your brain finds something pleasurable, it wants more of it.
You could say the junk food is engineered to keep you reaching for seconds. So, stay alert when you have a bowl of potato chips in front of you, and try to exercise some mind-over-matter discipline.
Eat junk food with other people
Sometimes, we go for junk food in private because we’re ashamed or embarrassed to eat it in front of others. Or, sometimes we just eat junk food alone because we’re alone, plain and simple.
But without people around to eat with, you also don’t have anyone to keep you accountable. This makes it easy to scarf down an entire plate of cheesy nachos in one sitting.
That’s why eating with other people can help you slow down and enjoy good conversation and your nacho’s.
Keep your portion sizes small
Sure, you can eat some Pringles, but that doesn’t mean you should eat the entire container. Try to limit yourself to four or five chips – you’d be surprised at how many calories are packed into just a handful!
And if you’re not careful you could easily exceed your daily caloric needs with something as benign as chips! Saying healthy while eating junk food is possible when you don’t overdo it.
Don’t eat junk food when you’re hungry
Junk food tastes good but it’s not satiating, and it won’t fill you up the way a well-balanced meal will.
That’s because even though junk food is full of flavor, it’s not full of nourishing nutrients. Instead, it’s loaded with empty calories. Therefore, when you’re hungry, steer clear of the convenient junk foods and wait patiently for something a bit healthier.
In the meantime, enjoy apple slices dipped in peanut butter to ward of hunger!
Move your body
If you decide to eat junk food, make sure you include some activity into your day, too. A brisk walk after dinner or quick cardio workout can help to keep things in balance. And if you don’t want to move your body, then maybe you should rethink the junk food you want to eat.
A snickers bar can contain over 200 calories. And it gets even worse for a Twix bar!
So, you should ask yourself, “How much activity will it take to burn those 200 calories. If you’re not interested in helping your body burn off those extra calories, you might want to rethink your junk food decision.
Make junk food the exception, not the norm
You don’t have to demonize junk food, but you should make it an exception, rather than the norm. So, even though a Twix bar can have close to 300 calories, you can still eat it, but just not every day.
Focus on eating healthy meals all week. That way, when you decide to treat yourself to a candy bar during the week, you don’t have to feel guilty about it. After all, every other meal you enjoy is balanced and nutrient-rich.
Make your own junk food
If you love junk food but hate how unhealthy it is, that doesn’t mean you have to cut it out of your life for good. And while you can certainly eat processed junk food and balance those choices with exercise and portion sizes, there’s another way to eat junk food and still stay healthy.
You can make your own junk food. And when you do, you get to control the ingredients you use. Plus, you can avoid inflammatory oils, as well as nasty additives and preservatives.
Here are just a few healthy twists to try for junk food.
• Sweet potato fries
Who doesn’t love a good French fry? You can easily make your own by peeling some sweet potatoes and slicing them into fry-like strips.
Then, toss them in either extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil, along with some salt, pepper and any other spice you wish (paprika or cayenne add a nice kick!).
Then, simply roast them in a 400-degree oven for 20-30 minutes, or until crisp. It’s a great alternative to deep-fried chips.
• Popcorn in coconut oil
If you want to settle in and watch your favorite Netflix series, skip the microwavable popcorn and make your own. All you need is a skillet, one-half cup of corn kernels (for example, Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popcorn Kernels) and one and a half tablespoons of coconut oil.
Once you heat the pan, add the coconut oil until it’s melted. Then, add the corn and cover. Every few minutes, shake the pan to prevent sticking and burning.
Soon, you’ll hear the kernels popping. When the popping stops, remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle with salt, along with any other toppings you prefer. Good choices are parmesan cheese or Sriracha sauce.
It’s hard to resist the smooth, rich taste of a good milkshake. But they’re usually loaded with lots of sugar and fats. Make your own by using your own selection of milk (dairy, almond or soy work great!). You can add some yogurt to give it a healthy boost of probiotics, as well as some organic cocoa powder, peanut butter, and fruit.
You won’t be disappointed with the results, and what’s more, you’ll enjoy getting to experiment and come up with the perfect combination.
Most milkshakes are nothing but a tasty mix of unhealthy fats and sugars. When you make your own, you get to add healthy, whole foods without missing out on great flavor.
You can stay healthy while eating junk food. You just have to be smart about it. Which tips do you want to try so you can enjoy the best of both worlds?