Healthy Eating Hacks for Junk Food Lovers

Why, hey there!  Okay, so I have a confession.  I am not the healthiest eater on the planet.  Veggies aren’t really my thing, I have a tendency to gravitate towards red meat and processed foods, and I have been known to go a whole month without eating a salad.  Sounds bad, huh?  (Everything seems so much worse when written down, doesn’t it?)  While I know that healthy living blogs are all the rage, for some of us they can seem very intimidating.  Kale?  Chia seeds?  Let’s be real.  The only Chia in my life will likely be this guy…….

 

 

 

 

 

And……I almost just spit out my water when I pulled this up.  Who knew that Chia pets? plants? still existed…..in Donald Trump formation, no less.

I am in no way putting down people who eat super healthfully.  I truly do think that is terrific, but for me, I am just not there yet.  My brother and sister-in-law eat incredibly healthy foods, and evidently they feel amazing.  However, I feel like many Americans are in my boat, for better or worse.  We want to eat healthier, but are looking for smaller changes that we can easily incorporate into our daily lives.  So, with that being said, what dietary changes can a not-so-healthy-eater make to maximize their health?

I just read that the recommended serving for fruits and veggies is 5-13 per day.  Um, whatever happened to the “Strive for 5” mantra?  And make no mistake, I did need to strive to hit that five.  With the new guidelines, I feel like even more of a healthy-eating failure.  Ugh, sometimes I hate recommendations like that, because people can feel defeated before they even begin.  Not to fear, my friends.  Read below.  While I can’t promise my advice will have you eating 13 veggies a day, it provides idiot-proof tips to have you making smarter food choices.

 

I have tried to break this post down into healthier options/tips/tricks for meals and snacks.  None of these healthy eating tips are rocket science, but hey, if you can take just one idea from this post to implement in your life, that’s awesome.  Feel free to share some ideas with me as well.  Lord knows I can use them!

Breakfast- During the week, I look for quick and easy, since I either bring my breakfast to work, or cram it down in 2.5 seconds before I leave the house.  On weekends, we make big breakfasts.

Weekday breakfasts….small since I snack a lot at school, and eat lunch at 10:30.  Crazy, I know.

  • Greek yogurt (I love Chobani and Siggi’s Icelandic, when I can find it on sale.  It’s not cheap!)
  • Hard-boiled eggs.  (I just like to eat the whites.  Weird, I know.  I cook a dozen at a time and eat for breakfast and as snacks.
  • Whole-wheat toast, sometimes with peanut butter for protein
  • String cheese
  • Fruit
  • Oatmeal/cereal

Weekend breakfasts……huge, and not always completely healthy!  We are all about greasy breakfasts in our house

  • Scrambled eggs with cheese.
  • Omelets (usually with peppers, cheese, and turkey pepperoni or Jimmy Dean Turkey Sausage Crumbles).  Hormel Turkey Pepperoni is my favorite, if you have not tried it.  Less fat and grease, and soooo tasty!
  • Either bacon or sausage.  Yup, here is the unhealthy part.  We cook either bacon or Jimmy Dean’s hot sausage most weekends, and I have no plans to stop.  So delicious.  But, while we used to eat copious amounts of bacon (I am talking 4-5ish pieces each, I now try to stick to just two slices of bacon, or two smaller sausage patties).  If you don’t eat pork, turkey bacon is decent and crisps up well.  I personally don’t feel it is that much healthier though, so I typically go for the real deal.  My husband will use any leftover bacon in his sandwiches during the week.  Or, it’s an excuse to make BLT’s!  For sausage, we cook it Saturday to eat over the weekend, and sometimes have a bit left for the week.
  • Hash browns.  Can’t go without them.  A healthier alternative is to use real potatoes or sweet potatoes and dice them , which we try to do on occasion.  For convenience though, we like Simply Potatoes, Shredded Southwest.
  • We are not huge pancake waffle eaters, but when we make them, we use Bisquick Whole Wheat mix, and toss in some blueberries.  Delish!

Lunch- During the week, this is often leftovers from dinner.  When we make sandwiches though, we try to incorporate some healthier options.

  • Use whole grain/wheat breads instead of white bread
  • Use only one slice of bread to cut down on unnecessary carbs
  • Swap mustard for mayo.  To say that we are not big mayo people is a huge understatement.  (I actually just cringed writing the word “mayo.”)  Many people love it though, so go light with it, or use olive-oil based mayonnaise instead.
  • Almond butter is a tasty alternative to peanut butter.  (I personally love peanut butter and think it’s a perfectly healthy meal choice, but if you want a change, try almond butter).
  • If you are doing lunch meat, do Boar’s Head.  Definitely one of the healthier deli meats (if not the healthiest), that you will find.  Pricey, but worth it, in my opinion.
  • Top with a veggie.  (Onions, lettuce,  tomatoes, avocado slices, etc.)

Snacks-  I am a huge snacker, and I need to have lots of options available, or I will hit the vending machine at school every.time.  Here are some of my go-to snacks for school and home.

Salty treats

  • String cheese/cheese and crackers
  • Almonds
  • Hummus with peppers/crackers
  • Pretzels/chips (Yes, I eat them for snacks.  However, I only buy the snack bags and only keep them at school.  They are a bit more $, but I like the fact that they are pre-portioned so I can’t go nuts).
  • Peanut butter/apples
  • Ranch with veggies (cucumbers/carrots, typically)
  • Dips- When making a dip for parties or cookouts, substitute plain Greek yogurt for cream cheese.  So creamy you won’t be able to even notice a difference!  Just make sure you don’t accidentally use vanilla flavored yogurt, as I once did.  Let’s just say that it made for an…….interesting taste.

Sweet snacks

  • Bananas, berries with honey
  • Greek yogurt with graham crackers/chocolate chips
  • Chocolate-covered pretzels  (Love the salty/sweet combo!)
  • Edy’s Slow-Churned ice cream.  Half the fat and you can’t even tell the difference.  Best dessert treat!
  • Smoothies!  I make mine with frozen fruits…much cheaper!

Dinner-  Dinner is where I tend to eat the most, which I know is the opposite of what I am supposed to be doing.  But, I try to be as healthy as I can, and use the following healthy eating tips.

  • Substitute bison for beef.  Although it is a bit more dry than beef, it is significantly lower in fat.  While expensive, we have spotted it for sale several times at Kroger.
  • Use whole wheat pasta when cooking.
  • When cooking with beef, go lean whenever possible.  Better yet, try to cook with ground turkey instead.
  • Cook your own pizza.  I love to buy a Boboli crust, and load it with healthy red and green peppers, as well as turkey pepperoni.  The cost is roughly $6 to prepare one, and it feeds both myself and my husband, with no leftovers.  Of course, I love to eat pizza as much as anyone, but sometimes I don’t want leftover pizza staring at me for days.  #hellotemptation

Drinks- My personal vice, as I feel like the vast majority of my calories come from alcohol.  Besides cutting back, here are some other tips.

  • Cut back on heavier craft beers.  Stick to light beer when possible.
  • Red wine is healthier, due to the resveratrol found in the skin of red grapes.  (There is your Jeopardy moment of the day, folks!)
  • Limit diet drinks to one per day.  If you are drinking regular sodas, just try to cut back in general.  If you normally have one Coke a day, try to get by with one every other day.
  • Cut back on coffee creamers.  Many creamers irritate my stomach, so I try to stick to milk or half-and-half.
  • Fill a massive water bottle and carry it with you.  The small bottles won’t do it for me, since I drink it early and often forget to refill.
  • Use an infuser in order to incorporate some fresh fruit into your water.  Check out this one from Amazon.  Or, to infuse on the go, here is another cute option.

Other Helpful Tips

  • Limit eating out/getting takeout to once a week, max.  Your wallet will thank you!
  • Eat fast food sparingly.  We like to stop at Bojangles on road trips.  I love the seasoning on their fries!
  • When eating out, get what you want, but make some small changes.  For a side, I almost always opt for a veggie, since I am usually full after eating the main entrée anyway.  Sweet potato fries are also good alternatives when the greasy fry craving hits.

Set Small Food Goals

Currently, my goal is to eat fish once a week.  So healthy, and easy to pop in the oven, or on the grill.  My other goal is to eat more veggies.  Some of my favorites include asparagus, sweet potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts, and green beans.  (For a quick and easy way to cook green beans, check out Brittany’s post here!)

Well, there ya have it, friends!  Coming from a not-super-healthy eater, that is the best I can really hope for in any given week.

Tell me……do you consider yourself to be a healthy eater?  Or, are you more like me…..a junk food lover just looking for some healthy eating tips?

 

 

 

 

 

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