Tips for Making Junk Food “Healthier” | The American Word

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Tips for Making Junk Food “Healthier”

Ashley Franz | 11/18/15 1:06pm
| Updated 11/18/15 1:06pm

Caroline Dowden /
American Word Magazine

We don’t all live in a world where we can binge on quinoa and kale and feel completely satisfied. Junk food cravings are a real thing, and, as busy college students, ignoring them could result in us being even more cranky and stressed. Sometimes junk food offers a little reward for the end of an exhausting week, or the comfort to keep calm and focused during that week from hell, and that’s okay!! The thing is, rewarding yourself for being a hardworking student can oftentimes derail any or all efforts you’ve made to stay healthy previously, so here are some ways to get your fix of sweet or fatty foods, without going overboard.

Barter with yourself. Taking proactive steps to make sure that what you really want won’t ruin things can be tricky. If you really want one thing, make sure you don’t waste calories on things you didn’t actually need that day – like having a wrap for lunch instead of pizza when you know you’re going out for burgers for dinner. Additionally, if you wanted a milkshake, skip the fries. It’s all about balance so that you can eat what you actually want.

Winter drinks are all fun and games until you realize what they actually contain. If you’re really feeling one last pumpkin spice latte of the fall season or starting the holidays off with a peppermint mocha, be mindful of the fact that these drinks can have close to 450 calories per cup, with enough sugar to rival three full-sized candy bars. Drink water for the rest of the day to balance this out; the saying “don’t drink your calories” should apply for everything except that holiday drink craving if that’s the kick you need to make it past that seven-page paper and four chapters of text.

Granted, none of these tips have changed the chemical makeup of the food to make it “healthier,” so here are alternatives to existing junk food to try to help in that area:

Wrap stuff in lettuce: cheeseburgers are still cheeseburgers with all the fixin’s even if they’re wrapped in lettuce instead of processed flour. Eating it can turn into a tad bit more of a challenge, trying to control the slippery lettuce and juicy burger – but hey – consider it an aerobics workout for your fingers.

Whole grain Easy Mac is the same thing as normal Easy Mac, but your stomach will thank you for extra fiber, which promotes digestion and helps you stay fuller longer. There’s no way to convince anyone that whole grain Easy Mac will fulfill your dietary needs of fiber, but if you’re going to be eating it anyways, might as well give the “healthier” version a go.

No one’s asking anyone to stay on the straight-and-narrow of healthiness during college. Stress builds up, and it’s okay to ask for french fries to soothe your woes. That being said, life is always about balance: balance between work and school, between school and a social life, and between salad and pizza. Bridging the gap between the healthy and the fattening makes it easier to treat yourself without having to feel guilty afterwards.