Dietician Tips To Make Your Favorite Junk Food A Little Healthier

Junk food is the bane of many people’s existence. They can’t resist it even if they know that it’s incredibly bad for them. But don’t worry… Darren Ryding - January 4, 2024

Junk food is the bane of many people’s existence. They can’t resist it even if they know that it’s incredibly bad for them. But don’t worry because we’re here to help. Dieticians agree that there are many ways to make your favorite junk food a little healthier. A tiny bit of discipline and some smart choices will make a big difference.

This isn’t about telling people to eat grass instead of hamburgers. In many cases, we’ll even recommend adding to classic favorites like breakfast cereals or pizzas. There are many ways to get more nutrients when we have junk food or to hate ourselves a little bit less for eating them.

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Verywell Health

Protein Powder in Breakfast Cereal

Everybody knows that breakfast cereals contain incredible amounts of sugar. Even so-called healthy options like granola aren’t what they appear to be. But they taste good and they’re great in the morning. We don’t want to take them away but luckily there’s a way to make them a little healthier.

Add protein powder to breakfast cereal to give it a power and flavor boost. Mix the protein with any kind of milk and it will instantly make it better. Protein is good for bones and building muscle mass but it also helps to reduce appetites. Meanwhile, there are so many flavors and vegan options available (via Men’s Health).

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Eat Steamed Dumplings

Chinese takeout is delicious but it’s also notoriously unhealthy. Fortunately, there are some simple hacks to cut the quantities of oil and salt we consume. Choose steamed dumplings instead of fried ones because they’re much better. Firstly, they aren’t full of oil but hold their nutrients better.

Take it to the next level by opting for vegetable dumplings. These have the least number of calories but they’re still yummy. Many people haven’t even tried steamed dumplings because they don’t think they’ll taste nice. However, they’re a very pleasant surprise and arguably even better (via The Kitchen Community).

Tasting Table

Natural Peanut Butter

It’s arguably the most all-American food of them all but it’s not as healthy as we like to think. The classic PB&J is one of the most popular sandwiches ever and is perfect with a glass of milk. However, many peanut butter brands contain extra sugar, unethical oils, and added salt.

One way to make it a little healthier is to use pure peanut butter. This is extremely healthy because it’s a great source of protein and natural oils. Some people don’t want it because it’s not sweet. But if they add honey and banana or even their favorite jelly it’s much better than regular peanut butter. (via Food And Wine).

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The Spruce Eats

Chicken Fajitas

Mexican food is delicious because there are so many bold flavors. However, it’s also easy to ingest our weight in calories when we eat burritos or quesadillas. But this doesn’t mean that we can’t eat this amazing cuisine. One of the healthiest orders on a Mexican restaurant’s menu is the classic chicken fajita.

Firstly, they use grilled chicken and vegetables so it’s leaner than fried options. There are also fewer carbs because they aren’t packed with rice. Meanwhile, it’s easy to tailor the amount of fat too by choosing less cheese or sour cream. Chicken fajitas can be a great source of nutrients and a great option on Taco Tuesday! (via The Spruce Eats)


Thin-Crust Pizza

Americans eat three billion pizzas per year or 100 acres per day so it’s safe to say that Italian pie is popular. However, most people don’t think of pizza as being nutritious. It can indeed be bad for our waistlines but there are several ways to make it a little healthier. We’re not talking about taking away toppings either.

The simplest way to make pizza better is to go thin-crust instead of thick. This instantly reduces the amount of consumed calories without taking away the taste. Also, avoid opting for stuffed crusts because there’s probably enough cheese on top. It’s a tiny sacrifice but a worthwhile one. (via Consumer Reports)

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Izzy Cooking

Vanilla Cold Brew

People often feel disillusioned about trying to become a little healthier. That’s because many dieticians recommend flavorless options that don’t inspire or excite. The reality is that there are many delicious options out there that we can incorporate into balanced lifestyles.

Vanilla Cold brews are a brilliant alternative to frappucinos or other calorie-heavy Starbucks orders. They taste great and they’re light with only 110 calories and five grams of fat. They also have a low sugar-count too so they’re one of the best drinks on the menu. (via Choosing Balance)

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Life’s Ambrosia

Dip Vegetables

Here’s another simple way to make our favorite dips a little healthier. Fresh guacamole and hummus are very tasty and full of benefits. But we can’t pretend that we don’t like ranch or BBQ sauce. Many people dip chips when they’re watching movies or at a party but this isn’t a good idea.

Ultra-processed potato chips contain more salt than an angry Karen. There are very high levels of sodium and this increases the risk of heart problems. Try dipping sliced vegetables like carrots or cucumber instead. Enjoy the sauces but make a healthy compromise by binning the chips (via Live Strong).

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All Recipes

Gin and Diet Tonic

Many alcoholic drinks aren’t good for the waistline. Beers typically contain lots of calories but there are other ways that they sneak into our drinks. Most people don’t realize that tonic water has high levels of sugar like regular soft drinks. That’s why it’s good to use a diet tonic to make it a little healthier.

It will change the flavor slightly because often drinkers don’t realize how sweet tonic water is. Using diet soft drinks as mixers makes plenty of sense because they’re widely available. Think about this when consuming rum and cokes or vodka and sodas. It’s an easy way to cut some sugar out (via Medical News Today).

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Restaurant Hospitality

Dipping Sauces

Let’s talk about dipping sauces again because they’re great. They’re also potentially another way to make our favorite junk food a little healthier. Instead of covering the meal in sauce, order it on the side. This way we get the same flavor but we can control the amount of salt and sugar we consume.

This is possible for many different cuisines. Most restaurants will provide more if necessary so don’t worry that it won’t be enough. Think about this for everything from soy to barbecue sauce. It’s a simple tip that we can use for dining in or for takeout without compromising on taste (via Health).

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Protein Pancakes

Pancakes aren’t always the healthiest option because they contain high levels of fat and sodium. Meanwhile, we typically cover them in toppings like chocolate sauce, ice cream, and syrups. But they can be a little healthier if we use a simple hack. Vanilla protein powder is brilliant because it gives a nutritional boost without changing the flavor.

Opt for chopped fruit, nuts, and Greek yogurt to take it to the next level. But don’t worry about eating all the naughty toppings if it’s an occasional treat. We can even use chocolate protein powder to change the flavor of the pancakes too. This might not be to everybody’s taste but it’s fun to experiment (via Eating Well).

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The Perfect Loaf

Scoop the Dough

Scooped bagels have two major upsides. Firstly, they’re not as heavy as a standard bagel because there are fewer carbs. This is an advantage for people who are trying to lose weight. It’s easy to scoop the dough from a bagel using a finger to remove as much as necessary

The second benefit is that it gives more room for fillings because it creates a trench for them to sit in. Some people will call this sacrilege and say that it defeats the point of having a bagel. But they’re growing in popularity because it’s easier to eat them without feeling like a bag of flour after (via Bon Appetit).

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The New York Times

Blot Oil Off Pizza

Society sometimes causes people to feel shame about having a cheat meal. There’s nothing wrong with occasionally eating junk food as part of a balanced diet. Nobody should feel bad about having a pizza on a Saturday night while they watch a movie with their family. Order all of the toppings and sides without worrying about them.

It’s possible to do this and still make pizza a little healthier. Take a paper towel and blot the oil off the surface of a pizza. Sometimes it gathers in pepperoni slices or spaces between the cheese. This is a very simple way to reduce the amounts of trans fats we consume (via The Dough Academy).

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Wholegrain Bread

Once again the small choices can make a big difference when it comes to personal health. Anybody who goes to Subway or other sandwich diners knows that there are many breads on offer. One minor way to make a difference is to choose wholegrain over other options.

Dieticians agree that it contains more fiber than white bread. This is better for digestion while it also abates hunger for longer. Another great tip is to skip butter if the diner grills the sandwich. Extra butter doesn’t make much difference in a toasted sub so save those calories. (via the New York Post).

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Eating Well

Use Unsweetened Almond Milk

Non-dairy milks are growing in popularity for several reasons. For many people, it’s an ethical decision but for others, it’s because they are lactose-intolerant. Now we can add weight-loss to this list because unsweetened almond milk is a great option. Remember, the sugar-free version is the one to use.

Medical experts noted that almond milk has up to 80 percent fewer calories than regular cow’s milk. It also contains high levels of magnesium for making bone and stabilizing blood pressure. That’s why it’s a great choice for a Starbucks order because it is a little healthier (via Eating Well).

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All Recipes

Prewashed Baby Spinach

Always keep a bag of prewashed baby spinach in the refrigerator because it is so useful. Baby spinach doesn’t have the same strong flavor as regular spinach so it’s great to throw into everything. If anybody loves Indian takeout or other Asian dishes with soups or thick gravies, it’s perfect.

Baby spinach will reduce because it has a high water content so it’s easy not to notice it in dishes. However, it contains high levels of iron so it will make every meal a little healthier. Throw a handful in a smoothie too because it’s so simple. This is a great hack to enhance almost any dish (via Hillybilly Acres).

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Wonton Soup

Here’s another excellent hack for a Chinese takeout order. Nobody will pretend that this is the healthiest food in the world but it is delicious. Wonton soup is a clever option because it isn’t as salty or calorific as other dishes. But there’s another great aspect that will make a Chinese order a little healthier.

Wonton soup is also filling without all of the carbs of noodles or rice dishes. That’s why it’s a good idea to eat it before tucking into anything else. Sometimes we want to have a cheat meal but this reduces the impact it has on us. Diners will feel full without feeling bloated (via All Recipes).

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My Recipes

Openface Sandwiches

These sandwiches are very popular in Scandinavia but they’re extremely straightforward. In short, it’s a sandwich with one slice of bread and extra toppings. No, they’re not the easiest thing to bring for a packed lunch. But it’s great to make at home for anybody looking to reduce their carb count.

Furthermore, transform any sandwich into an open one by removing the top slice. We’re not talking about rocket science here, it’s really that simple. Nobody will pretend that a meatball marinara sub is the healthiest meal in the world. Why not reduce some of the heartburn by reducing the bread? (via Martha Stewart)

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Eat This Not That

Order Appetizers And Split Entrees

This is a fantastic hack that will also save money when ordering takeout. Most people order entrees and share appetizers but they find themselves with too much food. They either overindulge or bring it home and eat unhealthy food for the next few days. But there’s a simple way to lower spending and to be a little healthier.

Order several small appetizers instead and then share the entrees. This means there’s more variety on the table but a lower quantity of food. Who knows; there might even be room for dessert too! Often the entrees sound more exciting than the main courses anyway but we don’t get to eat them (via Eat This Not That).

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Eat Soft Tacos

It probably won’t shock anybody that soft tacos are healthier than fried ones. Many people favor the latter because they like the fried taste and they’re also more durable. But the soft versions don’t have as many calories and they’re better for the heart. Another way to be a little healthier is to choose corn tacos.

Fillings make a massive difference too. Opt for grilled chicken or pork instead of fried varieties because they’re much better. Skimp on the cheese and sour cream because this is where calories pile up. Tomato salsa, beans, and guacamole can be good in small amounts so enjoy them (via Uno Casa).

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The Pioneer Woman

Add Canned Veggies to Canned Soup

Canned soup isn’t the healthiest food in the world because there are usually high sodium levels. Nonetheless, many people enjoy it because it provides comfort when they’re sick or if it’s cold outside. There’s nothing wrong with this and it’s better than eating a double cheeseburger. But there’s a hack to make it a little healthier.

Throw in some canned or frozen vegetables to boost the nutrient count in canned soups. It’s such a simple thing to do and it will make them more filling too. If eating bread, go for wholegrain loaves because they have more fiber. It’s so easy to make a big difference in our lifestyles if we make an effort (via The Pioneer Woman).

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Food And Wine

Flat White

Who doesn’t love a proper barista-made coffee? Usually, people think that they can’t lose weight while drinking Starbucks coffee unless they choose Americanos. Nobody wants to do this because it doesn’t taste nice or feel like value for money. But there’s an easy replacement for lattes or cappuccinos.

Choose a flat white instead. They’re a little healthier because usually they’re smaller so there’s less milk. They also taste a bit stronger which many coffee aficionados like. It’s like a more condensed latte because we still get the coffee kick and the dairy together (via Men’s Health).

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Add Veg to Frozen Pizza

Everybody occasionally throws a pizza in the freezer. They’re so convenient and they fill us up. But we can’t pretend that they’re the healthiest dishes in the world. One thing that people can do to add a bit more nutritional value. Chuck on some frozen veg before sticking it in the oven.

Yes, some people will roll their eyes and say that it’s a waste of time. But it’s not because it will provide more vitamins and minerals without taking anything away. Remember this is all about positive reinforcement. We can make great changes without feeling that we’re losing anything from our lives (via Simply Recipes).

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Lettuce Instead of Bread

This isn’t a new trend now but it remains popular. Many people who follow low-carb diets like using lettuce as a substitute for bread. It won’t be for everybody but it is an excellent way to make sandwiches and burgers a little healthier. Yes, the Keto Diet fanatics love it but don’t let that be an obstacle.

A naked burger will save diners up to 220 calories. That’s a great boost and it’s still tasty. There’s still texture and fiber so don’t worry that it will fall apart. It’s important to use the right type of lettuce but it’s a straightforward way to meet dietary goals. Most burger joints will offer this an option now (via Lean Mean Kitchen).

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Side Chef

Vodka Soda

Ed Sheeran is one of the best-selling artists in the world but freely admits that he had weight problems. However, he changed one aspect of his diet and it made a drastic difference. Instead of drinking beer, he opted for vodka sodas and saw outstanding results. It allowed him to party but with fewer calories.

This is a simple drink but it does the job. Add flavor by squeezing lemon slices or other fruit. Vodka shots contain 97 calories per 1.5-ounce shot so it’s easier on the waistline than a bottle of beer. It also gets people drunker quicker so it’s a win-win situation (via Women’s Health Mag).

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Pressure Cook Recipes

Instant Mac Hack

Sometimes we want to eat junk food because it’s tasty, quick, and comforting. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make it a little healthier and add some nutrients. Most people will be resigned to the fact that mac and cheese is bad for them. They’ll believe that there’s nothing that they can do to enhance it.

However, that’s not true because one easy hack will give it a boost. Stir an egg into the hot instant mac and cheese to give it a protein kick. It will also be more filling because protein reduces appetites. Instant mac contains refined carbohydrates so they don’t provide energy for long (via Pressure Cook Recipes).