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.

Healthy foods, junk food, processed food

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.

Food list, healthy food swaps, healthy alternatives junk food,

Sugar

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:

OMORC Fruit Infuser Water Bottle, 1L Leakproof Sport Water Bottle BPA Free Large Capacity with Cleaning Brush & Fruit Recipe

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.

Healthy sugar substitutes, fruit, sugar

Fat

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.

Pizza, fat, processed food, junk food

Salt

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.

Salt substitutes, healthy food swaps, spices, herbs

Summary

  • 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!

Sources

IDF., 2020. International Diabetes Federation – Facts & Figures. [online] Idf.org. Available at: https://www.idf.org/aboutdiabetes/what-is-diabetes/facts-figures.html [Accessed 10 April 2020].

Jethwa, D., 2015. Healthy Alternatives To Unhealthy Food | Lloydspharmacy Online Doctor Blog. [online] Onlinedoctor.lloydspharmacy.com. Available at: https://onlinedoctor.lloydspharmacy.com/blog/10-healthy-alternatives-to-unhealthy-food/ [Accessed 10 April 2020].

Kennedy, K., 2017. 28 Canned Soups, Broths, And Stocks Under 500Mg Of Sodium | Everyday Health. [online] EverydayHealth.com. Available at: https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-and-nutrition/canned-soups-broths-stocks-under-500mg-sodium/ [Accessed 10 April 2020].

The Lancet. “Globally, one in five deaths are associated with poor diet.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 April 2019. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190403193702.htm.

The Nutrition Source. 2020. Salt And Sodium. [online] Available at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/salt-and-sodium/ [Accessed 10 April 2020].

World Health Organisation, 2020. The Top 10 Causes Of Death. [online] Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/the-top-10-causes-of-death [Accessed 10 April 2020].

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].

Categories: Blogs

16 Comments

  • Jeff · 10/04/2020 at 4:55 PM

    Healthy alternatives to junk food are something more people need to learn and add to their lifestyle, you have provided so many good alternatives to junk food. I really believe we should choose natural whole foods over processed foods for our meals and our snacks more than we do, and autoimmune disease is on the rise all over the world.

    Jeff

      Sharon · 10/04/2020 at 8:26 PM

      Hi Jeff,

      Yes absolutely true, and some of the swaps are so simple yet could have a huge effect in terms of reducing the quantities of processed food and foods high in fat/sugar/salt which are often autoimmune triggers.

      Best wishes,
      Sharon

    Ceci · 10/04/2020 at 6:08 PM

    Great review Sharon.

    Many people tend to gravitate towards the naturally unhealthy alternatives because of convenience.
    You are “spot on” in saying that sugar is hidden in many foods – if we don’t critically check the labels.

    I think the audio book “Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss will be a great read and I will certainly look into this.

    Ceci

      Sharon · 10/04/2020 at 8:33 PM

      Hi Ceci,

      I’m glad we’re on the same page, if you do invest in the book, I’d be keen to hear your thoughts and learnings from it.

      Thank you,
      Sharon

    Deb · 10/04/2020 at 6:44 PM

    Very informative article. I am always looking for healthy alternatives. I start my day with hot water with a lemon slice rather than coffee although I do enjoy a black coffee on weekends at times. I also enjoy cucumber infused water throughout the day. I do sometimes indulge in sweets but they are homemade and usually made with honey or stevia, trying to keep it natural. Thanks for the suggestions on salt substitution as I do crave salty snacks. I will try using herbs and spices instead. Thanks.

      Sharon · 10/04/2020 at 8:41 PM

      Hello,

      That’s a great way to start the day, good to hear you’re embracing the infused water as it does help drink more of it compared to plain water. Seems to me that you’re on a good path already, but I hope the post gave you reassurance of this and perhaps some new ideas.

      Best wishes,
      Sharon

        Lara K · 11/04/2020 at 4:31 PM

        the article is actually good and rich in information. Besides that this article is current in our time, we eat so much unhealthy food. I liked your tips on how to swap sweets for fruit and berries

          Sharon · 11/04/2020 at 7:54 PM

          Hi Kara,

          Thank you so much, I really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on my page. I’d personally recommend swapping the sweets for fruit, it’s nature’s healthy treat!

          Best wishes,
          Sharon

    Hayden · 11/04/2020 at 12:49 PM

    Hi Sharon,

    After finishing my college football career this season, I have lost 15 pounds but have hit a wall. Definitely need to work on replacing sugar! I love frozen yogurt! Will definitely have a bowl of this instead of ice cream, to try and push more pounds off.

      Sharon · 11/04/2020 at 6:22 PM

      Hi there,

      Wow that’s some tremendous weight loss, congratulations! I bet it was tough going! Maybe some of the simple swaps will aid you towards achieving your target weight!

      I’d love to hear how you get on with the frozen yoghurt, I sometimes top it with sprinkles or fruit to shake things up a bit.

      Sharon

    Andy · 11/04/2020 at 3:15 PM

    Thanks Sharon, another excellent, highly informative an practical piece. I was curious to see Robinson drinks recommended as substitutes for highly sweetened sodas. I grew up on that stuff. Our mum would make it from concentrate and tap water. The concentrate was thick syrupy goo she’d poor into the bottom of a beaker. You had to poor the water on top turning the tap on hard so that the goo would mix. I always thought it was loaded with sugar, reading a bit of their history I can see that it was. Like any sensible company it seems they have adapted to changing tastes and now no sugar is a key feature. Decades ago they were definitely down-market and low cost. Like other Brit foods I think they had something or a combination of ingredients that got you hooked. Good to see they’ve done a total turnaround. Thanks again – a ton of really useful info here. Best regards Andy

      Sharon · 11/04/2020 at 6:29 PM

      Hi Andy,

      Wow, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard of concentrate described in such a texture, I’m surprised it was even drinkable! I’ll look at the likes of Robinson’s with more appreciation anymore after hearing that! Just to point out that obviously plain water on its own is ultimately better than adding such flavours, but we are human and all need a treat now and then. Plus sometimes it can be difficult to just drink water on its own.

      Thank you so much, I hope it offered some tips!

      Sharon

    Kathy · 11/04/2020 at 4:07 PM

    I enjoyed this article and was inspired by some of your healthier alternatives. While I don’t eat meat I do enjoy salmon fillets, especially as they’re high in omega 3. Although I love chocolate, I avoid high calorie coffe drinks which can be tempting with a sweet desert! Greek yoghurt is a great favourite of mine, and I have some everyday with frozen berries. Good to know it’s healthy!

      Sharon · 11/04/2020 at 7:47 PM

      Hi Kathy,

      I’m delighted to hear you enjoyed the post! Salmon is an excellent source of healthy fats, one of my favourite sources of omega 3 in fact. Yes, that’s often the temptation for people, it’s often not just a cup of tea, it’s usually paired with a biscuit or 2. I also have greek yoghurt with frozen berries, my current favourite breakfast.

      Thanks for sharing,
      Sharon

    Phomrong Hongsha · 11/04/2020 at 6:23 PM

    Wow, I became scared when I saw your line, 1 out of 5 die due to poor diets globally’ and that prompted me to run through your article.

    Yes, agreed that sweets are full of preservatives and additives that can damage the body and so cutting up an apple into slices and topping it with some peanut butter or greek yogurt sounds amazing.

    Diabetes is taking a heavy toll, and many of my colleagues are victims of it. And especially, when the age range enters the late forties and early fifties, it’s at this time for everyone to be more cautious and conscious of what to eat and what not to.

    You’ve shown so may ingredients to keep ourselves healthy and I look forward to reading such useful information.

    Thanks for sharing this article.

      Sharon · 11/04/2020 at 8:00 PM

      Hello,

      It’s a scary fact, isn’t it! It certainly tastes as nice, if not more wholesome and satisfying that sweets in my opinion. Yes, that’s so true, and often it’s too late for them to reverse the risk of developing the disease at that stage.

      Glad you enjoyed the article.

      Best wishes,
      Sharon

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