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Curb those cravings with these great alternatives to fast food

There’s no getting around it – fast food is bad for us, yet most of us crave it at some point. Do you wish you could resist the temptation and choose healthier alternatives instead? If so, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with fast food cravings, which can be hard to overcome.  

In this article, we’ll explain why fast food is bad for you, why you crave it and how you can stop those cravings with some healthy – and delicious – alternatives. 

Why is fast food bad for you? 

Fast food is often tasty, cheap and readily available, but it’s also high in calories and low in nutrients. Eating too much of it can seriously impact your health in different ways. Here are just a few of the reasons why fast food is bad for you: 

  • Fast food such as pizza, chips or burgers is typically high in sugar, salt and saturated or trans fats. These ingredients can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity. 
  • It’s usually low in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which are essential for your health and wellbeing. A diet that lacks these nutrients can often lead to deficiencies, inflammation and poor immunity. 
  • It can cause spikes and drops in your blood sugar levels, which can affect your mood, energy and appetite. This can make you feel tired, irritable and hungry soon after eating. 
  • Junk food can also affect your mental health and has been linked to conditions such as depression, anxiety and stress. 

 Why do I crave fast food? 

Cravings fast food is certainly a common occurrence, luring even the most health-conscious among us into succumbing to temptation from time to time. But what makes us crave it so much?  

  • Firstly, fast food is often high in salt, sugar and fat - substances that stimulate our brain's reward system, creating feelings of pleasure. Over time, our brain starts associating fast food with these feel-good responses, leading to cravings.  
  • Secondly, the convenience and immediate gratification of fast food adds to its appeal, especially when we're stressed or short on time. Our modern, busy lifestyles can often make cooking from scratch seem like a daunting task, tempting us towards the instant satisfaction of fast food. 
  • Finally, marketing and social factors play a part too, making fast food seem more desirable, especially when on the go or while enjoying a social event with friends. 

What to eat when craving fast food 

There are many ways to satisfy your cravings without resorting to fast food. Here are some healthy alternatives that are easy to make and delicious: 

1. Kale crisps 

Hankering for a bag of crisps? Grab some kale crisps instead! Whether fried or baked, these dark green leaves are perfect for when you’re craving something salty and crunchy. They are low in fat and calories, yet high in fibre and antioxidants. Make them at home by tossing kale leaves with olive oil and salt, then baking them until crisp. You can also add your own tasty low fat vegan dips for extra flavour. 

2. Dark chocolate 

Imagine a world without chocolate? We can’t, which is why we’re very happy to include dark chocolate on our list. While it should still only be enjoyed as an occasional treat, dark chocolate is one of the best alternatives for sweets if you crave something rich and decadent. It’s high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that benefit your health. It also contains less sugar and fat than milk chocolate. Opt for dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids for the most benefits. 

3. Fruit and yogurt ice lollies 

The perfect way to cool down on a hot day! Fruit and yoghurt ice lollies are low in fat and sugar, high in protein and calcium and rich in antioxidants and vitamins. They are also easy to make at home with your favourite fruits and yoghurt. To make your own, try chopping some strawberries into small pieces, then mix together with some plain yoghurt. Spoon the mixture into ice lolly moulds and freeze for at least 4 hours -delicious! 

4. Healthy mac and cheese 

Can macaroni and cheese ever be considered healthy? Not if you make it the traditional way, but you can make it healthier (and just as tasty) by using wholewheat pasta, reduced-fat cheese, unsalted butter, skimmed or dairy-free milk and Greek yogurt. You can also add some spinach or broccoli for extra fibre and vitamins. 

5. Fresh fruit

When it comes to healthy alternatives to junk food, fresh fruit is a no brainer. It not only contains a whole host of essential nutrients, fibre and antioxidants, it’s also a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth naturally. For something a bit different, try sprinkling cinnamon on some apple slices or filling a hollowed-out watermelon with a fruit salad, turning a simple snack into a delicious, healthy taste sensation. 

6. Wholewheat pitta pizza 

Dreaming of a guilt-free pizza night? Then swap your standard takeaway or frozen pizza for homemade wholewheat pitta pizzas, a fibre-rich treat that helps regulate digestion better than traditional white dough. Cover with chopped tomatoes, a sprinkle of mozzarella and a variety of colourful veggies for a mouth-watering, well-balanced snack which will satisfy your pizza cravings.  

7. Chia pudding 

This amazing little dessert can satisfy your craving for something sweet and creamy while working wonders for your health. Chia seeds are packed with fibre, protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, making it an excellent snack for sustained energy. Plus, making your own chia pudding is easy! Simply combine chia seeds a little sweetener and your choice of milk, pop it in the fridge overnight, and wake up to a creamy, satisfying treat.  

8. Unsalted popcorn 

Not to be confused with the popcorn you get at the cinema which is packed full of added butter, sugar and salt. We’re talking about air-popped, unsalted popcorn which is low in fat and high in fibre, containing vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc and magnesium. This low calorie snack is delicious and filling but just remember the minute you start cooking it in butter or adding sugar, popcorn can quickly turn it into an unhealthy choice.  

Looking for further healthy eating inspiration? 

If you’re struggling to cut fast food and other unhealthy snacks out of your diet, LiveWell Dorset is here to help! Our friendly team of coaches and advisers are ready to support you through your journey to a healthier, happier life, helping you to stay on track. Register with us today to receive personalised tips and guidance tailored to you and your goals. 


I drank too much alcohol and had unhealthy eating habits. Pastry is such a bad thing, it's all those pies, pasties and sausage rolls!

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