Beat junk food cravings with healthy, affordable alternatives

We’re all concerned with gaining that “Freshman 15,” even if we’re not freshmen anymore.

While there are a lot of healthy food choices, things like pop, candy and chips that are commonly eaten because of their easy accessibility and cheap costs.

One of the most detrimental things that unhealthy snacks contain is a high calorie count. Common junk foods such as french fries, ice cream and candy can be dangerous in that area, which is why healthy alternatives to these common items are important.

What do my cravings mean?

According to a Huffington Post article, craving sweets is typical when we lack energy.

Since sweets typically contain a lot of carbs, it’s normal to want to turn to these kinds of foods to give you a boost when you’re energy is low. Instead of consuming these empty calories, try eating something with protein, such as peanut butter, eggs or a handful of almonds. These foods don’t process as fast, but will keep you feeling full longer.

Many of us can agree that after a hard day, nothing makes you feel better than that big bowl of ice cream you’ve been craving. Despite this, ice cream can be dangerous because while it gives you a temporarily good feeling, guilt usually follows close behind.

Ice cream is commonly turned to as a “comfort food,” that people use to escape emotional distress. Instead of feeling guilt, feel content with a serving of Italian Ice. Due to the fact that it’s not milk-based, Italian Ice is not loaded with sugar, leaving you with a guilt-free dessert (that is only a little over 100 calories for a half cup!).

Healthier alternatives do exist!

When you go into a gas station or party store, candy, pop and chips are basically the only foods you will find. While these foods are easily accessible, they are the absolute worst for you, because they have little to no good nutritional value.

Here are some alternatives you can easily find at Wal-Mart or Meijer:

  • Craving potato chips? Try Stacy’s bagel chips or Special K’s trademarked popcorn chips. Both are low in calories and contain lower amounts of sodium and fats.
  • Craving ice cream? Try a scoop of Blue Bunny frozen yogurt. A half of a cup of strawberry banana frozen yogurt is only 100 calories and has low fat and calories.
  • Craving licorice? Next time you take a trip to the movies, pick up Red Vines instead of regular licorice. The lower calorie intake will make you feel less guilty for snaking.
  • Craving fruit snacks or fruit flavored candy? Skip the artificial flavors and stick to the real stuff! It’s simple to find assorted fruits at any grocery store so there’s no excuse!
  • Craving chocolate? Instead, try dark chocolate. While it is more bitter form of chocolate, it’s definitely a healthier choice.
  • Only have ramen or easy mac in the cupboard? No problem. Cook the noodles and leave out the cheese and flavoring packets (which is where most of the fat and calories come from). Add your favorite veggies and some olive oil!

If you’re still looking for some healthier alternatives to whip up in your kitchen, try these recipes for sweet potato fries, margarita pizza, Ramen noodles and beef and beer chili.