Finding Healthy Substitutes for Your Cheat Meals

Clean eaters often look for tasty alternatives for popular junk food to offer variety in their meal plans. It also helps them lessen their cravings for cheat meals. One of the things that people tend to struggle with when transitioning to a healthy lifestyle is completely cutting out all the fatty, oily foods. It is difficult to achieve without finding a good, nutritional substitute.

enjoying food

On top of that, there are plenty of myths about the subject. For instance, an example from The Food Network that egg whites are healthier than whole eggs. ‘Myths’ like these have so many people restricting themselves to the point that they end up binging on cheat days. Instead, it’s better to keep everything in moderation and maintain consistency in the eating habits.

veggies

While cravings shouldn’t be considered as the enemy, you should get smart about how you eat. It’s all about what meals you eat when you’re out, what food you cook and what ingredients you work with. Essentially, It’s about control, and not prevention.

veggies

One of the best ways to respond to cravings is by giving yourself 15 minutes before giving in. According to Fit Day, cravings should subside after a few minutes. Don’t fret if the feeling lingers – it’s normal, and it happens to all of us. Instead of running to your favourite fast food chain, find a recipe that replaces all the harmful stuff with nutritional ingredients. This way you can enjoy your craving without the guilt that usually follows right after consumption.

We all have different cravings. Some of us have more of a sweet tooth, while some will choose burger and fries over a slice of decadent chocolate cake. For those that prefer savoury food, here are some of the most common cravings, along with some guidelines on indulging the right way:

Pasta

brown-rice

Other than that egg whites vs. whole eggs misunderstanding, another misconception that many people have are that carbs should be avoided at all costs. It’s all about eating the right carbs, swapping out regular pasta with whole wheat, brown rice, or quinoa alternatives. If your grocery store has spaghetti squash, you can also use the veggie alternative as a replacement to traditional boxed pasta. It only has about 20 calories, less carbs, and is packed with more protein. It’s perfect for everyone, from vegans to gym fanatics who are looking for an easier way to incorporate vegetables into their diet. Especially for those who aren’t fans of salads. Check out The Greatist for the countless number of ways you can cook spaghetti squash.

Sushi

Sushi may seem like it’s healthy because of all the seafood and veggies used to create the rolls, but think about it – tempura is deep-fried, soy sauce contains lots of sodium, and spicy rolls are doused in mayo with just a dash of hot sauce. And with all that white rice, you’re basically loading up on the carbs that you’ve been trying to reduce. While many restaurants, including the famous Tojo’s in Vancouver, BC, Canada as featured in The Scene Presents series, forgo the use of MSG and go for seasonal ingredients, it’s easier to track the healthiness of your meal when you make it at home.

Sushi

Sushi is just as fun to make even when you use nutritional substitutes, such as brown rice instead of white, low sodium soy sauce, more sashimi options, and making use of more veggies in your homemade rolls.

Fried Chicken

Although most healthy fried chicken recipes aren’t technically fried. Unless you are replacing your regular canola oil with extra virgin coconut oil, your oven can crisp up your chicken just as well as a pot of oil. That’s as long as you are cooking it at the right temperature. The key here is to use skinless drumsticks, whole wheat flour, nonfat buttermilk, olive oil spray, and the seasoning of your choice. Because the cooking time is longer, it will allow the flavours to really seep in. Though you’ll still want the chicken to sit for a couple of hours before putting it in the oven.

chicken-salad

As Cleo Robinson says, the secret to tastier chicken is letting it sit in seasoning for a few hours before cooking it. Most recipes only require a marinating time of 30 minutes, although the longer that you can leave the chicken in the marinade, the juicier the results.

Pizza

homemade-pizza

Pizza tends to get a really bad reputation as the ultimate junk food, and from what we’ve all seen, it’s not at all surprising. But there are plenty of options out there to get your pizza fix. You just have to find out which places offer thin crust or make use of whole wheat or rye dough. Some pizza joints do have gluten-free options, so that’s something else to be on the lookout for. If you plan on making your own pizza, Eat This suggests adding nutritional toppings. For example, turkey instead of pepperoni, drizzled olive oil, and fat-burning veggies such as spinach and Brussels sprouts.

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2 Comments

  • Pizza absolutely doesn’t have to be unhealthy! And there are lots of other great cheat options too. I remember a person once told me that when they are craving something “bad”, they think of something “better” and eat that instead. Think about how good a piece of barbecued cajun chicken looks/tastes!

    • I definitely agree with you, Tim. I’ve heard of cauliflower based pizza and I definitely want to try it. The cajun chicken sounds good. I’m a big fan of BBQs!

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