Is there a way to make my favorite junk foods healthier?

Doreen Rodo
Nutrition & Dietetics

You can definitely make junk food healthier by using the following substitutions:

  • Baked Chips for regular chips
  • Hummus, chunky salsa and Wholly Guacamole instead of mayo dips
  • Whole wheat crackers instead of regular crackers
  • Light or 2% cheese instead of regular cheese
  • Make your own peanut butter crackers instead of buying prepackaged
  • Dark chocolate instead milk chocolate
  • Homemade bagel pizzas instead of frozen (use part-skim mozzarella)
  • Baked tortilla chips plus low-fat shredded Mexican cheese for nachos with cheese sauce (you could also add ground turkey)
Kodi Moore
Nutrition & Dietetics

Your favorite "junk foods" can definitely fit into a balanced diet. I like to follow the 80/20 rule, if you consume a healthy diet, low in fat, added sugars and sodium, the majority of the time (roughly 80% of the time). Occasionally (roughly 20% of the time) it is fine to consume the real version of your favorites. Just watch your portion size, I like to follow the MyPlate model using about a 9 inch plate. Visit for more information. MyPlate splits your plate into 4 quadrants, half your plate should be fruits and vegetables, and then approximately one quarter protein and one quarter grains, with dairy on the side. For example, if you went out for a burger at a fast food restaurant, choose the child sized burger with everything (protein from the burger, grain from the bun, lettuce, tomato and onion are vegetables), go ahead and get cheese (dairy), choose whatever fruit they have available for your side. Then really savor the flavor, think about what you are eating, smell it, really taste it and enjoy it.

Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics
You can find ways to make your favorite junk foods healthier. Choose whole grain buns and rolls for burgers and subs. Choose soft tacos instead of fried tacos. Choose chicken and veggies over processed meat in subs. Add plenty of veggies on top. Try a veggie burger sub! Avoid Chinese dishes that are fried and loaded with sauce. Choose chicken and veggies, skip the egg rolls. If you crave sweets try whole grain cookies instead of white flour, trans fat laden ones. Use healthy oils instead of trans fats when baking. Today there are so many healthy versions of junk food that lots of what used to be considered junk is no longer bad for you.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.