How To Make Junk Food Healthy…ish

Junk food like pizza, cookies, and chips will never be health food. But a few tweaks to the junk you eat can make it slightly less terrible for you.

By Stephan McCormick

ModernMan.com Junk Food

You already know that eating baby carrots is better for you than eating Baby Ruth bars. So instead of boring you with an “eat this, not that” kind of thing, we instead asked Los Angeles-based dietitians Sumner Brooks and Alyse Levine to help us find the right products to make our junk food choices a little healthier.

#1: Chocolate
“Something like Trader Joe’s real Belgian chocolate — which contains 70 percent cocoa — is a good choice,” Sumner says. “Real cocoa powder is rich in anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants.”

#2: Ice Cream
“Go with a brand like Breyers,” Levine suggests. “Many of their flavors have about five ingredients: milk, cream, sugar, tara gum (an additive made from tree seeds), and natural flavor.” If you see a laundry list of ingredients or the term “slow churned,” don’t buy it; slow churned often means the product contains partially hydrogenated oils, which are unhealthy trans fats.

#3: Potato Chips
Kettle brand chips have no preservatives, genetically-modified ingredients, or trans fats. They’re also gluten free. However, if Kettle chips have somehow found their way onto your sh*tlist, sub for a brand with the least amount of saturated fat.

#4: Cookies
Yes, low-fat products have less fat in them, but they usually pump in more sugar to help with flavor. So forget low fat and stick with cookies that don’t use partially hydrogenated oil in the recipe. “At 60 calories per cookie, Chewy Chips Ahoy is a decent selection so long as you use portion control.” says Alyse. In other words, don’t inhale the entire cookie sleeve in one sitting. Also, if you dip it in milk, make it fat-free milk.

#5: Beer
Beer doesn’t contain fat, but the calories it has can still give you a beer gut. So drinking light beer means you’ll consume less calories. “The body doesn’t readily use alcohol calories for fuel,” Sumner explains. “So aim for beers with less than six percent ABV.”

BEER CALORIES / CARBS (grams) ALCOHOL %
Amstel Light 100 / 5 3.5
Bud Light 105 / 5 4.5
Coors Light 100/ 5 4.2
Michelob Ultra 95 / 3 4.2
Budweiser Select 55 55 / 1.9 2.4
MGD 64 64 / 2.4 2.8
Corona Light 100 / 5 4.1
Sam Adams Light 125 / 8 4.0

TAGS: candy, diet, healthy food