How to satisfy junk food cravings the healthy way.
*TRIGGER WARNING - This post will mention and show pictures of common trigger foods for eating disorders and contain calorie counts*
We all know that the hardest part of loosing weight is cutting out or at least cutting down on the unhealthy foods that we love the taste of. If, like me, you have Binge Eating Disorder or a food addiction then you'll know all too well how impossible it feels. The thing that helped me the most at the start of my journey was a delayed food swap. Instead of spending all day fighting a craving I would delay eating for 1 hour, in that hour id drink a full pint of water, and find something to do to occupy my mind, this could either be playing a video game or crocheting or anything else you like to do that will keep both your hands and mind busy. If, after that hour has passed I still felt really desperate to satisfy that craving I would pick a healthier alternative.
I've made a list below of as many commonly loved junk foods I could think of and their healthier alternatives. All of these healthier alternatives are guaranteed to 'hit the spot' and get rid of that craving without the guilt.
Pizza is something EVERYBODY loves and is considered one of the most unhealthiest foods due to the way its prepared in most restaurants and fast food places. Firstly, the base is made from white flour. White flour is made from the same kernels as whole wheat flour but its much more processed. The whole wheat kernel has 3 layers, an outer layer, called the bran, which is mainly made up of fibre, a middle layer called the endosperm, which barely has any nutrition and the centre called wheat germ which contains most of the vitamins and minerals. When the whole wheat kernel is processed to make white flour both the outer layer and the centre are removed, along with a whopping 73% of the wheats nutritional value. The pizza is then brushed with oil, topped with heavy amounts of full fat cheese and often processed, fried meat toppings as well. Your average 12" pepperoni pizza from a takeaway contains 1965 calories, 97g of fat and 36g of added sugar (not including the carb sugars). However, you can still eat pizza and it be healthy you just have to make it yourself. Firstly swap out the white dough for cauliflower base, I know, it sounds like it just wouldn't work but I promise it does, it holds up the toppings, the crust goes crispy and it does resemble bread, its just one of those things that has to be seen to be believed but I guarantee you will never look back, check out my cauliflower crust recipe. Ditch the unnecessary oil, spread on your passata or tomato puree. Then you can weigh up your cheese so you don't over indulge and I would also recommend choosing healthy fresh toppings like grilled chicken, peppers and mushrooms. Check out my cauliflower base recipe and topping ideas.
2. Fries (chips)
Another thing that EVERYBODY loves is fries or as they're known here in England, chips. Usually, potato would be cut into thin batons and dumped into a boiling pool of oil. We'll talk more about the oil further down but here we will focus on the calories. 100g of deep fried fries from somewhere like McDonalds or Burger King contains roughly 290kcals. To put this into perspective, 100g is roughly a child's portion. Cut the potatoes at home and bake them without oil and you'll cut those calories to just 97 per 100g of cooked potatoes. Did you also know that in America, KFC fries have 36 ingredients, they added so many chemicals that they had to add more chemicals just to make it taste edible again. Mind BLOWN. Ditch the chemicals and make your own oil free fries by following my recipe, you don't just have to use potato, many different vegetables can be made into fries such as carrots, parsnips or sweet potato.
3. Potato chips (crisps)
Crisps are something I could eat with every meal, I used to eat more packets than I could count in a week, unfortunately, even though you can get lower calorie crisps, the numbers still wrack up and many packets of crisps exceed 150kcals per packet. Not only are they very calorie dense, they lack other nutrition and are usually either baked or fried with oils and full of additives, unnatural flavourings and preservatives. One of my favourite alternatives is popcorn. You can buy kernels pretty cheaply in most supermarkets or online and it takes just minutes to pop on a stove top. You can then choose from a wide range of both sweet and savoury flavourings. Take a look at my guide to popping and flavouring your own popcorn with my sweet and salty popcorn recipe
Ketchup and other condiments are a real weakness of mine, even now, its very rare I have a meal without some form of sauce involved. Store bought sauces like ketchup and BBQ sauce are packet full of sugar and salt to hide the flavours of all the chemicals they add and to make it that little bit more addictive to our brains. My name is Ashlee, and I am a sauce addict. Its a good job these sauces can be made at home with natural healthy ingredients, right! I've spent several years making my own sugar free ketchup recipe and I truly believe it is the best recipe out there, my son cant tell the difference between my recipe and store bought. My BBQ sauce still needs a little tweaking to be 100% sugar free but its well on its way so keep an eye out for that. Want to make sure you don't miss it? Subscribe to my monthly newsletter or follow Healthy Hearty Wholesome on social media!
5. Fizzy drinks & Alcohol
If you've read my personal update blog posts you'll have read that I used to drink 2 litres of original Cola every single day and when I went out with friends it wasn't uncommon for me to have 5-10 double gin and lemonades! The only time I would ever drink water was when I had a hangover. Now water is pretty much all I drink but occasionally I still get that craving for something fizzy. Fermented probiotic drinks like Kombucha and Switchel are really great alternatives because they're really good for you and your digestive system. Particularly if you've been feeling bloated or gassy after eating too many beans! Popular brands like Remedy are really low calorie and although fermented with sugar, are recommended by sugar free advocates. I also recommend Remedy's drinks for an alcohol replacement because in my opinion, Kombucha tastes exactly like a dry apple cider! In England, Kombucha and Switchel can be found in Holland and Barrett, occasional supermarkets and surprisingly, the pub chain Wetherspoons.
6. Ice cream
Anyone that knows me well knows that I am quite literally an ice cream addict, I'd eat it 24/7 if I could, chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, mint, ALL the flavours! I'd switched out the calorie dense Ben and Jerrys for lower calorie alternatives many times in the past but now that I'm avoiding food with preservatives and eating a much more natural diet, I had to find a substitute once again. Once I found it, boy did I wish I'd found it sooner! The banana based substitute for ice cream, often nicknamed nice cream is low calorie, 100% natural and can have as little as 1 ingredient. The way it changes consistency into a light creamy mousse just blows my mind every time. Check out my recipe for Chocolate (Cacao) Nice Cream today!
7. Candy (sweets)
Honestly I haven't craved the good old Haribo as much as I thought I would but because I expected this to be a huge obstacle for me I looked for a substitute very early on in my journey. I also wanted to find some healthy snacks for my son and created a simple fruit leather recipe Using just blended strawberries. This recipe does take many hours to oven dry but its worth the wait. Its really got that sweet, chewy gummy sweet effect that everybody young or old loves. Check out my strawberry leather recipe and let me see your own fruity creations by tagging me in your photos on Instagram @HealthyHeartyWholesome.
Store bought Chocolate is full of extra sugar and often processed milk powders. In the case of Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate, they boast using fresh milk in their chocolate but then have to add not one but two different emulsifiers (E442 & E476) to mix the milk and fat and help it set into a solid bar of chocolate. To make chocolate slightly healthier, make it yourself, which really isn't as intimidating as it sounds, especially if your just going for something simple. Its important to remember that whilst homemade chocolate does not contain unnatural products, it is still high calorie and extremely high in fat as one of the few ingredients is cocoa butter so if, like me you struggle to exercise portion control then its probably best to avoid chocolate on the whole if you can. If you want an easy, quick chocolate recipe, take a look at my Vegan Dark Chocolate recipe.
9. Hot Chocolate
Just like with chocolate, store bought hot chocolate powder along with its low calorie alternatives are still packed with additives, sugars or sweeteners that are just not good for your body. Try making your own hot chocolate by warming up some milk with a spoonful of Organic cacao and a dash of maple syrup if you want a sweeter drink. Alternatively, if your looking for something warm and relaxing before bed, why not try a lavender or camomile tea. Both herbs are scientifically proven to aid sleep.
10. Oil/Fried foods
Oil has been the subject of much debate over the years in terms of health, whilst many people following a cleaner way of life do still consume lesser processed oils such as extra virgin olive oil I personally choose not to have any oil in my diet. Why? The main reason would be down to a possible intolerance, I've not pin pointed it yet but what I do know is that when I eat fried foods, my body does not thank me. I also don't see any need to have it in my diet, it has no nutritional benefit, increases inflammation which is something I'm specifically trying to combat and as someone that's trying to lose weight, its just a waste of calories. Just 1 tablespoon of oil contains 124 calories. I grew up in a household that was pretty anti-oil so its not something I ever learnt to cook with and when I moved up north I was pretty shocked to hear how many people regularly used deep fat fryers in their homes. When I want to sauté something such as onions I just add a splash of water to prevent sticking. I have never felt oil is something that is needed in my diet, I get plenty of healthy fats from natural sources such as fish and nuts. However if your just looking to make a healthier choice on the oil front, swap vegetable and sunflower oils for extra virgin olive oil or unrefined coconut oil.