While you can't eat only junk food and still be healthy, this doesn't mean you have to give up all of your favorite comfort foods. A healthy diet should be low in added sugar, trans fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium and high in fiber. With a little planning you will still be able to fit in your favorite foods.
Making Favorite Foods Healthier
One way you can fit your favorite foods into a healthy diet is to modify the recipes to make them healthier. Use low-fat or non-fat versions of dairy products, substitute ground turkey breast for hamburger, replace half of the fat in baked goods with fruit purees, omit salt in all recipes except for baked goods and replace refined grains with whole grains. You can also decrease the amount of sugar in most recipes by up to half without significantly affecting the taste. Add more flavor to foods by using herbs, spices and citrus juices. In one-dish meals, increase the amount of vegetables and decrease the amount of meat. Choose the leanest cuts of meats and bake, steam, roast, broil, microwave or grill your food instead of frying it.
If the healthier versions of your favorite foods still aren't very healthy or if you only like these foods when they are made using a particular not-so-healthy recipe, cut your portion size and fill the rest of your plate with foods that are low in fat and calories while still containing lots of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are good options. Share a dessert with the whole table when you go out to eat so you still get a taste without being tempted to overeat.
Another way to fit in your favorite foods while still sticking to a relatively healthy diet is to eat them less frequently. Make them a treat for special occasions rather than an everyday food. Just make sure to eat mainly healthy, nutrient-dense foods the rest of the day so you still get the nutrients you need without eating too many calories or too much fat.
You'll have a little more leeway with your diet if you exercise regularly, since exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and help keep your heart healthy. Aim for at least 30 minutes most days of the week, and choose a type of exercise you enjoy so it won't feel like a chore. Take up salsa dancing, go for a walk after dinner or join a neighborhood sports team to help you get moving.
- MayoClinic.com: Healthy Recipes: A Guide to Ingredient Substitutions
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight
- Help Guide: Healthy Recipes
- American Diabetes Association: Cook with Heart-Healthy Foods
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise: 7 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.