Back in the bad old days of diet fads, juice cleanses and detoxing to shed unwanted pounds, one central concept about food reigned supreme: Good Food Versus Bad Food. Sure, the list of good and evil foods changed across diets, but this idea of foods you simply must avoid ran deep in the culture of nutrition for decades.
But guess what? It is entirely possible to eat those cheat foods you love in a balanced and sustainable way! Sounds like an Amway scam? Not at all! These days, the research is telling us just how damaging, unnecessary, and short-sighted this good versus bad thinking can be when it comes to the food we love.
And even those foods we do have to eat in moderation can be tweaked to fit much more easily into a healthy nutrition plan. As proof, here are five “cheat” foods that can be surprisingly good for you:
A steaming mug o’ chocolate milk is a vital evening ritual for many among us. It’s just one of the best ways to shed the day’s stresses and purchase a deluxe return ticket to Sleepsville. There’s a problem though. This magical snooze potion isn’t exactly your healthiest option and comes with its own set of unique challenges for those cursed with lactose intolerance. So, here’s a way to think outside the milk carton. Opt for almond milk! It tastes pretty dang good, and when combined with cocoa (or better yet, the macronutrient amped and less processed alternative, cacao) you’re left with a superb guilt-free alternative.
Pizza has a bad rep among people hoping to shed a few pounds. And it’s true that just a few slices are all it takes to blow your daily calorie budget right out of the water. But there’s an important distinction we should make here! Chain store pizza is calorically apocalyptic, but a home-made pizza doesn’t have to be that way at all.
Pizza, at the end of the day, consists of dough, cheese, sauce, vegetables, and meat. All those delicious ingredients can, in fact, be combined to create something both tasty and not all that bad for you. Let’s start with the cheese. Sure, you could go for copious amounts of mozzarella and call it a day. But if it’s the flavor you’re after, a relatively small amount of stronger tasting cheese may deliver exactly the same savory intensity, but with only a shadow of the calories. The trick with the sauce, meat, and veg are to focus carefully on your ratios.
Yep, if you’re a meat lover, you’re going to want lots of the stuff. But moderating that urge by adding in handfuls of delicious veg can deliver a fresh, authentic pizza flavor but with a significantly smaller dent in your diet. Here’s the really cool part. Homemade pizza, done right, can taste way better than your shoddy six-bucks chain store Hawaiian cheese frisbee. You’ll never want to go back!
To many, milkshakes are, in beverage form, a perfect testament to the hopelessness of the human condition. Its bestrewed bedazzlements are a potent demonstration that, as a species, we are doomed to crave that which shall ultimately destroy us. Just one milkshake is all it takes to blitz your calories. Unless, with just a bit of tinkering, your malty temptation is transmogrified into the righteous beverage of champions. Instead of full cream milk, go for low-fat milk. Switch the copious dollops of ice cream for 90 percent frozen yogurt with just a few teaspoons of ice cream for additional creaminess. Instead of half a cup of chocolate sauce, opt for honey and a sprinkle of toasted coconut. Suddenly your milkshake is a dense, delicious drink but without the nuclear blast of fat and sugar.
We all know that deep-fried stuff isn’t ideal for your health. While fish in itself is extremely healthy meat, it turns out immersing it in a vat of fat somewhat lessens the virtue of this classic meal. But crumbed fish needn’t be fried to within an inch of its nutritional life! Bake the stuff and you have beautifully healthy meat. OK, it’ll be accompanied by a ton of carbs in the form of potatoes, but it’s a big improvement.
Meatloaf may well be the ultimate comfort food, but in its traditional form, let’s face it, it’s also a meaty brick of cholesterol packed naughtiness. But it’s also a surprisingly easy meal to clean up. Swapping the ground beef for turkey or bison immediately reduces your bad fats. Bind it with egg whites instead of whole eggs, and you’re getting that same moist texture with significantly fewer calories. Yes, it tastes a little different, but provided you use all those spices and flavorings your family recipe demands, you’ll still have a delicious chunk o’ loaf on your plate, without the nutritional downsides.
Alycia Gordan is a freelance writer who loves to read and write articles on healthcare technology, fitness and lifestyle. She is a tech junkie and divides her time between travel and writing. You can find her on Twitter: @meetalycia