Many people worldwide consider snack food and junk food synonymous. But snack food doesn’t have to be junk food. In fact, you can choose alternatives that are healthier than junk food being passed off as snack food.
“Junk food” commonly refers to food items lacking nutritional value, or containing ingredients that negatively affect health when ingested regularly, or simply containing unhealthy components. However, the UK Food Standards Agency avoids using the term and prefers a more neutral label instead: foods that are “high in fat, saturated fat, salt, and sugar” (abbreviated to “HFSS food”). The Agency acknowledges the subjective and relative importance of such a category of foods, since HFSS food can actually complement balanced nutrition. However, special care must be taken not to mistakenly believe that such snack and food items can replace healthier alternatives in anyone’s diet.
The secret to ensuring that you are getting the right amount of nutrients from your snacks lies in knowing what your food contains. This means that avoiding “junk food” is simply a healthier choice, unless your special nutrition requirements demand higher fat, saturated fat, salt, and/or sugar content in your snacks and meals.
Here are some useful tips to help you make a healthier choice and avoid the temptation of junk food.
Check your kitchen cupboards and cabinets. Take out all the HFSS food items and throw them away. If you don’t see junk food, you will less likely give in to temptation. By making junk food difficult to access in your home, you will have to exert extra effort to go the grocery to buy some. That can be a discouraging factor.
Stock up on fruits, nuts, and vegetables. The easier you can access these healthy alternatives, the less likely you will fall for unhealthy options (e.g., chocolates and confectionery) to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Hydrate yourself with either plain water only or fresh fruit juice. Surely, sodas, colas, other carbonated beverages, and artificial fruit juices give your tongue a joyride and can actually provide your body with essential fluids. But, do you really need the extra sugar and preservatives? Besides, fresh fruit juice does not throw away the fruit’s natural fibers that can aid in digestion and improve metabolism.
Cook your own meals. That is, if you can and if you are willing. Homemade meals are enjoyable. You can also control the ingredients that you throw into the pot or pan.
Exercise daily. Thirty-minute aerobic exercises done five times a week can help you stay in good shape and can actually help you shed off excess calories. The metabolic lift produced by aerobic exercise also gives you that healthy feeling which can motivate you to eat only healthy food.
Quit gradually if you are a junk food addict. Gradual lessening of HFSS food intake tends to produce more success than abrupt stopping does. As you lessen your junk food intake, complement your plan with an increase in healthier snack options.
With HFSS food products flooding our supermarkets and groceries, you may find it difficult to distinguish between healthy and not-so-healthy snack foods. In many cases, examining the nutritional info printed on the packaging will help a lot. A little effort on your part can go a long way towards avoiding junk food and switching to healthier snacks.