Clever Ways To Make Your Favourite Junk Foods Healthier

Friends sitting together outdoors sharing a pizza
Westend61 via Getty Images
Friends sitting together outdoors sharing a pizza

It’s the beginning of the year and we’re all trying to keep our goal of eating healthier -- but it’s near impossible to resist those pizza, pasta and burger cravings.

Though these meals are delicious and not to be cut out completely (phew), too much pizza, burgers and pasta can easily eat up your daily recommended energy intake.

But there’s ways to have your pizza and eat it too.

“Doing your pizza on a pita base is always a great swap,” nutritionist and dietician Lyndi Polivnick of The Nude Nutritionist told The Huffington Post Australia.

Adding in extra vegetables and cutting down on the cheese will make it even healthier.

“When you’re making your own pizza at home you don’t need to add as much cheese -- you can use half the amount and it will naturally become a little bit healthier for you," Polivnick explained.

"And also skipping those processed meats like salami and other cured meats will make it a healthier food swap.”

But if you still can’t get a greasy Domino’s pizza off your mind, Polivnick suggested to simply be mindful of how many slices you’re eating.

“The thing about pizza is that it’s often just watching the portion size,” Polivnick said. “Generally just having two or three pieces is going to be ideal.

“So even if it means you’re indulging, you can have your pizza and eat it too.”

When it comes to burgers, skipping the buns completely is not the best option -- for both your tastebuds and your body.

“It’s better to have some carbohydrates in your meal”, Polivnick told HuffPost Australia. “So skipping the bun altogether is kind of missing the point.

"A burger without the bun is not really a burger.”

If you don't want to have a full load of carbohydrates, a good compromise is to take off the top half of the bun and use the bottom half.

“And if you’re still hungry afterwards you can go for the top bun -- but you might not need the whole thing,” Polivnick explained. “Always opting for that grainier bread is going to make the burger that much healthier for you, too.”

Another way to make a burger healthier is by adding in lots of nutritious ingredients.

“So making sure you’ve got things like lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and beetroot -- really loading up on lots of the veggies,” Polivnick explained.

Otherwise, sharing a burger and ordering a side salad will let you have the best of both worlds.

Pasta has a bad rap for being unhealthy, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be. It comes down to how much (and often) you are eating it.

“Many people suggest you go for a wholemeal pasta -- and it definitely does have more fibre in it -- but I’m of the opinion that if you’re going to eat pasta, you gotta do it properly,” Polivnick said.

“It’s got be something you really enjoy, and if that taste compromise is too great for you, then just eat pasta less frequently.”

Portion size is important, too -- for pasta or spaghetti Polivnick suggested a cup and a half (around two fists size) of cooked pasta.

Pasta eating also becomes more healthy when you opt for fresh, lighter sauces.

“When it comes to sauces, pick those better-for-you options, like pesto that’s made with nuts, herbs and extra virgin olive oil, or opting for Napolitana over a cream-based sauce,” Polivnick told HuffPost Australia.

Like with burgers, an easy way to healthify pasta is to make sure you load up on nutritious ingredients.

“So adding things in like cherry tomatoes, olives, lots of herbs, and even mixing rocket through your pasta -- is going to be a better version for you,” Polivnick explained. “You can still have that big bowl but it’s not going to be as dense.”

People might also like to try out zucchini noodles, which are doing the rounds in the food community.

“Everyone’s obsessed with zucchini noodles at the moment as an alternative to pasta and I think they’re great, but I also think they aren't pasta,” Polivnick said. “It’s a different taste and sometimes it’s just not going to cut it when you're really looking for a big bowl of pasta.”

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