It’s common knowledge that the more delicious a snack is, the more terrible it is for you. Case in point: junk food. We all know it’s bad news. Heck, the name itself implies that there’s unnecessary stuff hanging around. And in this case, that unnecessary stuff is extra fat, sugar, salt and calories.
Cheetos Let’s face it: If you don’t find Cheetos addictive, you’ve got superhuman powers. Instead of shamefully licking off the bright orange faux cheese from your fingertips after hitting the vending machine, pop a bag of popcorn into the microwave and simply skip the butter. You’ll get the same light, airy feeling with a subtle crunch. Bonus: No neon-colored evidence to remind you of your indulgence.
Chips and Dip Instead of the usual chips-and-dip combo, reach for sliced jicama strips and salsa. “It’s a low-calorie fix when you’re craving something crunchy,” says Elena Kulakovska, a certified holistic health coach and nutrition consultant in New York City. Just like that, you’ll get a serving of veggies in without the fat, grease and salt.
Cheesecake When you’re craving creamy and indulgent cheesecake, reach for low-fat Greek yogurt. Top it with fresh fruit like blueberries, raspberries or strawberries and graham cracker crumbles to mimic the trademark cheesecake crust.
French Fries This unhealthy side dish is seriously tempting and all kinds of unhealthy (trans fats, blood-sugar spiking potatoes, the list that’ll make you cringe goes on). Luckily, the best swap for this junk food is readily available at restaurants these days: sweet potato fries. “Craving french fries? Reach for sweet potato fries,” says Kulakovska. Sweet potatoes are all kinds of good for you — they’re rich in vitamins A, B6 and C, and they still satisfy a craving for something fried.
Potato Chips Fried potatoes strike again! If you’re craving something crunchy and salty, Kulakovska recommends reaching for dehydrated veggie chips. “Kale and arugula chips are often seasoned with spices and seeds, and they come in a wide variety of flavors,” says Kulakovska. Jalapeno tomato chips? We can handle that.
Cookies It’s hard to top this classic baked good. Even worse, it’s often hard to stop at just one. Next time you’re tempted by a chocolate chip cookie, try sweet chocolate crisps (Genisoy makes a good version). One serving comes in at only 90 calories, so you’ll get more bang for your caloric buck. Kulakovska also recommends Biscolinos. “They are wholesome cookies made with raw ingredients that will tame your sweet tooth and nourish your body with a balance of fiber, protein and antioxidants. These chewy, almond- and coconut-based cookies not only taste amazing, but they’re low in calories too.”
Starburst, Twizzlers and Skittles Next time you’re headed to the movies, skip the concession lines and throw some dried fruit into your purse instead. Raisins, Craisins and other dried fruit will satisfy your craving for something sweet and chewy. Just be sure to put on the brakes at some point, because eating too much dried fruit will only bring you back in the high-calorie territory of the candy