Healthy alternatives to unhealthy foods (with chart)

pasta with vegetables

Healthy vs. unhealthy foods

Although most of us are aware that there are healthier alternatives to unhealthy foods, we tend to be creatures of habit and rarely want to change anything. When faced with the alternatives to our favorite guilty pleasures we often think “It just doesn’t taste good!” & “That not nearly as satisfying”. Well, we are here to say it does not have to be that way. We will introduce you to alternatives that taste at least as good as your favorite unhealthy snacks and meals—or even better. We have put together all the best healthy alternatives to unhealthy foods for you in a chart. So you save calories and time, do something good for your health, and come one step closer to reaching your goal weight.

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Tips for preparation

There are also ways to cut down on fat and calories in the cooking process itself. In contrast to frying in a pan, the grill is a fat-saving alternative, since the fat can drain and the meat does not go through with it (hopefully). If you do fry something, use a healthy, high-quality oil from sunflower or linseed instead of butter. You usually need less of these and these oils contain more high-quality fatty acids.

It is also worthwhile to lay the fried meat or vegetables out on some paper towel or to dab them off with paper towel. That way you can cut the extra calories without compromising flavor.

Steaming and poaching are particularly healthy and low-calorie ways of cooking. You should avoid fried foods altogether, whether at home or on the go. The trans fats used in fried foods and baked goods are very high-calorie and harm your health.

Keep an eye on your groceries

are tacos unhealthy foods?

It is also worth being extra mindful when choosing food. If you can, always try to use fresh and unprocessed foods. Fresh vegetables taste better, are cheaper and are usually free of artificial flavors and additives. The more processed a product is, the more time you should take to look at the ingredients. In particular, foods that do not resemble their original form, such as sausage, contain many undesirable, avoidable additives. Supposedly healthy pre-packaged products, in particular, are usually loaded with preservatives, and artificial flavors. Even if they do not pose an acute health risk, they do negatively affect the nutritional value and your taste buds’ ability to differentiate flavors.

Some of the following additives are commonly added to foods:

  • Emulsifiers: help to mix immiscible substances (e.g. oil and water) into an emulsion.
  • Dyes: Are used to color the product more attractively. They originate from either natural or synthetic processes (e.g. E 142 for green products)
  • Preservatives: Increase the shelf life of food.
  • Flavor enhancers: Supposedly improve the taste of the product. This also includes sweeteners for light products such as aspartame.

Some sweeteners or additives have been banned in recent years. Despite stringent quality controls, the health risks of some additives have not yet been clarified or adequately researched. Eating these substances does not pose an immediate risk for many people, but their presence in a particular food indicates that that food is industrially processed and should be treated with caution. In our table we show you that healthy alternatives are not difficult to find—almost any unhealthy food can be replaced easily.

Pre-packaged seasoning mixes

Ready-made seasonings for lasagna, sauces, etc. are particularly popular due to their very intense taste. This intense taste comes from thickeners and lots of salt and sugar and overpowers the actual taste of the meal it is flavoring. Ironically, these spice blends are often neither cheaper nor quicker to prepare than the home-cooked variant. And by using them we lose the appreciation for the more nuanced flavours of fresh spices and products.

That doesn’t mean that you have to do without your favorite dishes! You can often replace the food with a healthier equivalent. For example, pork can be replaced with lean chicken; white rice for brown rice, and white-flour baked goods for whole-grain alternatives. To be sure, white flour is ideal for baking, but it contains many short-chain carbohydrates, which are processed into sugar molecules in the small intestine. As a result, white flour products spike our blood sugar and then cause it to crash, similar to soft drinks. This often causes hunger and food cravings.

The following list is a good overview if you want to exchange unhealthy foods for healthier alternatives.

Food Alternative Food
pork belly, sausage, goose, duck
venison, turkey, chicken, duck (without skin), veal,
bacon, salami, Lyonnais sausage, mortadella, liver sausage
cooked/smoked ham, cured pork, turkey breast
fish sticks, herring, mackerel:
steamed/smoked fish, pollock, cod, haddock
Rice (white) / Couscous brown rice, quinoa, cauliflower (grated)
millet wheat pasta, e.g. spaghetti zucchini spaghetti or pumpkin noodles, whole grain pasta
Fries, fried potatoes Baked potatoes, roast potatoes, foil potatoes
Traditional breading (white flour base) sesame breading
Croissant, white flour pastries, white bread Wholegrain pastries, spelt pastries, wholegrain bread
Ready-made (salad) dressings, light dressing, mayonnaise oil, vinegar, mustard, soy, salt, pepper and water or just balsamic vinegar and a little oil
Lemonade, fruit juice water with berries, lemon water, tea, black coffee
Beer Sugar-free soda, wine spritzer
Coffee with milk and sugar Coffee black (without milk and sugar)
Peanut butter Cashew butter, almond butter (Caution: high-fat content, high calorie)
Peanuts Almonds
Chocolate Fruit, chocolate (100% cocoa)
Nut nougat spread 100% Raw cocao
Nut nougat spread 100% jam
chips, pretzel sticks vegetable snacks, vegetable sticks (sliced carrots/peppers)
Ice cream Ice cream frozen yogurt, water ice cream, sorbet
Milk products (full fat) milk products (low-fat)
Crème Fraiche (40% fat) Sour cream (10% fat)
Mascarpone (47.5% fat) granular cream cheese (2nd, 9% fat)
Margarine, sour cream reduced-fat cream cheese & herb cream cheese, Tomato paste, cottage cheese
Industrial sugar/cane sugar birch sugar (xylitol), erythritol (if possible, do without completely)

Healthy recipes in your nutrition plan

Do you want to replace more than just a few foods? Do you want to lose weight healthily and keep it off for the long-term? A personalized Upfit nutrition plan will help you on your way to achieving your desired weight. All of your needs are taken into account when creating your nutrition plan. Whether you are vegetarian, vegan, or an meat eater – you can easily create your customized nutrition plan in just a few minutes. In addition to food intolerances or allergies, your plan also adapts to your food preferences by cutting out the foods you don’t like and keeping the ones you love.

Wondering which dishes in the restaurant are best for your figure and weight loss? We have summarized all the do’s and don’ts, hidden sugar traps and what you have to watch out for in our article “The best tips and tricks for weight loss in restaurants”. And if you to cook for yourself, you can find the TOP 100 healthy recipes for weight loss(many recipes cook in 5 minutes) in our free recipe database.

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