Do you find yourself frequently craving and binge eating junk food? Are you worried that you could be subject to the consequences of unhealthy eating habits, such as the leading cause of global death, ischemic heart disease? Do you crave salty or fatty foods? Perhaps you have a sweet tooth and are looking for tips to reduce sugar intake and prevent yourself developing diabetes. This article offers tips on how to stop eating unhealthy foods, how to avoid processed foods, and some healthy salt substitutes. Read on to discover some of the best healthy eating tips and how you can prevent the life-threatening effects of an unbalanced diet with some simple food swaps.
Worldwide, 1 in 5 deaths are caused by poor diet!
If you haven’t done so already, then please go and read how bad are processed foods? Are you risking your health? It provides an overview and background to processed foods, the health effects of processed foods and the top 10 processed foods to avoid. Are you guilty of harbouring some of the worst processed foods in your home? I bet you are!
In addition to that, if you’re looking to develop a balanced view on processed, then reading is processed food healthy and what are the best processed foods to eat? will definitely be of value. In this article, common myths are debunked, such as are canned foods healthy and are frozen foods healthy? Also, learn how to avoid the worst foods for weight gain and adverse health effects. Also, are you aware of just how deceptive food labels are?
Before we delve any further into this article, it’s paramount to highlight that much of what has led the world into a culture of binge eating junk food is adopting unhealthy labels to food and diets. If you want to stop craving unhealthy food, then demonising food with unhealthy labels, such as junk food or cheat meals, will not help you develop a healthy relationship with food. Because let’s face it, we often only really start craving foods when we tell ourselves we can’t have them or when we start categorising them as a guilty pleasure. So please, stop calling it a cheat meal!
Now, let’s take a look at a healthy food substitution list.
Approximately 1 in 2 people who have diabetes are living undiagnosed, so it’s no wonder that diabetes features on the top 10 causes of deaths worldwide. Fortunately, measures can be taken to minimise your risk of developing diabetes. Below are some tips to reduce sugar intake in your diet.
Swap ice cream for frozen greek yoghurt or protein ice cream:
Ice cream is often high in sugar and fat. With the advent of healthy alternatives and increasing numbers of health-conscious people, there’s now a growing range of frozen yoghurts (or fro-yo) and protein ice creams available that often halves the calories and sugar content of a normal tub of ice cream, often without compromising on taste!
Swap sweets for fruit and berries:
Sweets are nowadays full of preservatives, additives and words we won’t event attempt to pronounce! Why not opt for a less-processed food and cut up an apple into slices and top it with some peanut butter or greek yoghurt? Or lightly drizzle some low-sugar chocolate syrup over strawberries for a little sweetness.
Swap soda for flavoured water:
While many people have become conscious of the excess sugar in soda and made the switch to diet drinks to lose weight and reduce sugar intake, there’s still an abundance of people who would rather opt for more natural drinks. Flavoured water encompasses the fizz of soda drinks without compromising on flavour. I personally lean towards water flavour enhancers, such as Twinings Cold In’Fuse which comes in a range of flavours, or Robinsons SQUASH’D which has no sugar and no calories. Alternatively, you can add a slice of lemon to give your water some flavour.
If you’re on the go, these infuser water bottles are a great way to stay hydrated with your tasty infused drinks and help you steer clear of soda drinks:
Willceal Fruit Infuser Water Bottle 32oz Durable, Large – BPA Free Tritan, Flip Lid, Leak Proof Design
Swap flavoured coffee for regular coffee:
Does it have cream on the top or copious amounts of milk, chocolate or syrup? Does the title end in ‘chino’? Then, it’s likely that you could be drinking the same amount of calories as a decent lunch. Some of these drinks can go as high as 300-400 calories, and let’s not discuss the sugar content! Why not opt for a regular tea or americano and go easy on the sugar? As an intermediate, some people also opt for the skinny version, e.g. skinny latte which can cut the calories and sugar content in half! If you’re interested in reducing your sugar intake, are artificial sweeteners bad for you? may aid your decision.
As previously highlighted, food shaming is an unhealthy psychological habit. Unfortunately, fat-shaming has been prevalent for many years with trends including low fat diets endorsing low fat food products to the more recent ketogenic diet which, in contrast, promotes a high fat, high protein diet. It’s no wonder people are wondering is fat really bad for you? The reality is that fat is an essential macronutrient, so selection of healthy essential fats is critical to a healthy diet. Below are ways to reduce fat intake and also can aid in reducing the risk of developing the leading worldwide killer, ischemic heart disease.
Swap pizza for pitta pizza:
Pitta and even tortilla-based pizzas are a sure-fire food hack to mitigating excess saturated fat and also calories from our beloved calorific pizza. Just be careful with the toppings, particularly cheese and sauces, as these can significantly elevate the fat and calorie content.
Swap fatty meats/fish for leaner cuts:
When preparing or eating meat, remove any visible traces of fat and skin. Red meats are often higher in saturated fat, so try opting for ones with less fat, e.g. swap 15% fat mince for 5% fat mince. Some of the leanest meats include turkey and chicken breasts as opposed to chicken thighs. Most white fish is very lean, e.g. cod, whiting.
Swap full fat for reduced fat sauces:
Some of our favourite dressings are hosts to enormous quantities of sugar, salt and fat. Common culprits including thousand island dressing (6g fat and 59 calories per tablespoon) and mayonnaise (10g fat and 94 calories per tablespoon). These foods certainly don’t abide by the +353 rule. This is why if you walk into a restaurant and evaluate the nutritional value of a salad, it is often equivalent to (if not worse than) your typical burger and chips. Of course, you could always make your own sauces and then you can control what you add to it. But what also helps is swapping such condiments for alternatives, e.g. opting for reduced-fat mayonnaise (3.5g fat and 35 calories per tablespoon).
Swap crisps with popcorn:
For the optimal swap, ensure the type of popcorn you select is not the microwave version as this is typically laden with fat and salt. Instead, purchase the corn kernels and pop them on your stove instead. Try topping it with chilli flakes or curry powder for an added kick! Kale chips have also become popular as of recent and are a great way to replace the salty crisps without compromising on the crunch and texture.
Salt, also known as sodium chloride, is about 40% sodium and 60% chloride. In excess quantities, salt can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Check out the below tips to reduce salt intake.
Swap salt with herbs and spices:
Some excellent healthy salt substitutes included mixed spices and mixed herbs, which have become a household staple and are one of the easiest ways to reduce salt intake. Sprinkle them over your potatoes or meat for some added flavour! Just be careful of seasonings as they often contain as much salt per 100g as salt itself!
Swap processed meat with low-sodium meat:
Sandwich meats are notoriously high in sodium, with some meats containing as much as 15% of the recommended daily salt allowance per slice. So if you make a sandwich and add in 2-3 slices of deli ham, you could consume as much as 45% of your salt intake, and that’s not including the salt in the bread slices, cheese or the condiment! If you can live without eating processed meats, then you’re probably better off as they rank high on the top 10 processed foods to avoid list. One of the ways to reduce salt intake from meat is to cook your own fresh or frozen meat, e.g. chicken breasts, beef, ham, and slice them up. It’s much healthier and often tastier too!
Swap salt-flavoured peanuts with unsalted peanuts:
Which of the following has more salt, salted or dry-roasted peanuts? If you chose salted peanuts, then you’re in for a shock as dry-roasted peanuts contain on average an extra 1g salt per 100g. Naturally, peanuts are very low in salt, so choosing unsalted ones is a healthier alternative. If you’re looking for a bit of extra flavour, try opting for unsalted, roasted peanuts.
Swap ready-made soup for home-made soup:
Store-bought soups are exceptionally high in salt, with some soups exceeding over half the daily recommended salt intake in one serving! While it does take a bit more effort, home-made soup can be much more nutritious and when made in batches and frozen, it can last for ages! Just be careful not to add in stocks as these are high in salt.
- The effects of an unbalanced diet can led to chronic health diseases and ultimately death
- 1 in 5 deaths are caused by poor diet
- Sugar is prevalent in many foods, and often hidden in unsuspecting drinks
- Fat is an essential macronutrient which should not be eliminated from diets
- Healthy salt substitutes include herbs and spices
If you’re interested in reading more on this topic, why not read or listen to Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss
Do you crave foods high in sugar, salt or fat? Do you think you would adopt any of these food substitutes or have you your own suggestions for food swaps? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section!
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Yamamoto-Taylor, B., 2018. 15 Healthy Alternatives To Junk Food | Cook Smarts. [online] Cook Smarts. Available at: https://www.cooksmarts.com/articles/15-healthy-alternatives-to-junk-food/ [Accessed 10 April 2020].