Chips, ice cream, french fries, pizza, cheeseburgers -- they’re all so tempting and, unfortunately, can be loaded with fat, sugar, and salt.
Luckily, you can easily replace them with tasty, but healthy, alternatives.
Make these 10 smart swaps so you can enjoy some of your favorite fare, without all the fat.
1. The Fatty Food: Movie Theater Popcorn With Butter
You probably know that those pumps of liquid butter at the theater concession stand are a fat trap. But even microwave popcorn with “movie theater butter” or “Blast O Butter” is shockingly high in fat. Some varieties have 12 grams (including 3 grams of saturated fat and 4 grams of trans fat).
Lighten It Up: Try “made with real butter” microwave popcorn options with 5 grams of fat or less per serving. Or, make popcorn in an air popper and drizzle it with one tablespoon of melted whipped butter per serving. This adds only 7 grams of fat (5 grams of saturated fat).
Another option: Try 100-calorie packs of kettle corn for a touch of sweetness.
2. The Fatty Food: Potato Chips
The beloved combination of fried potatoes and salt comes at a nutritional cost of 10 grams of fat per ounce.
Lighten It Up: Nowadays almost every brand of potato chips has a baked option, which usually clocks in with 3 grams of fat per ounce. If that doesn’t satisfy your chip craving, sample some of the light chip options, with 4 grams of fat or less per ounce.
3. The Fatty Food: Pork Sausage Links
Before you serve up some pigs in a blanket, you should know that three links of regular pork sausage have about 24 grams of fat (8 grams of saturated fat).
Lighten It Up: Choose turkey sausage for a savory alternative. It typically has the same herbs and spices as pork sausage, and three links have only about 7 grams of fat (2 grams of saturated fat).
4. The Fatty Food: Cheese and Crackers
This seems like an easy on-the-go snack, but it comes with a high nutritional price. Sharp cheddar cheese has 10 grams of fat (6 grams of saturated fat) and 120 calories per ounce, while a serving of wheat crackers has 7 grams of fat and 160 calories.
Lighten It Up: Buy a reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese that has only about 6 grams of fat (3.5 grams of saturated fat) and 90 calories per ounce. Pair it with low-fat crackers that have whole wheat as the first ingredient -- these typically have 3 grams or less of fat per ounce.
5. The Fatty Food: Vanilla Shake
At one of the national chains, this drive-thru favorite has 700 calories, 34 grams of fat (23 grams of saturated fat), and 75 grams of sugar.
Lighten It Up: Practice portion control, and buy a kid-size shake -- or get your cold-treat fix with a small frozen yogurt, reduced-fat vanilla cone, or creamy yogurt parfait.
Depending on the fast-food chain you are visiting, the fat grams and calories go down because of the portion size or lighter choice.
6. The Fatty Food: Ice Cream
Just a small scoop (1/2 cup) can have 19 grams of fat (12 grams of saturated fat) and 300 calories.
Lighten It Up: Some supermarket brands offer super-satisfying substitutes to full-fat ice creams. These varieties are not only lighter on the wallet, but they are also usually 75% lower in fat and 60% lower in calories. The frozen aisle is also stacked with nonfat sorbets and frozen yogurts in many flavors.
7. The Fatty Food: French Fries
Sometimes a burger, chicken sandwich, or hot dog doesn’t seem complete without a side of fries. But fast-food fries will run you about 17 grams of fat (3.5 grams saturated) and 340 calories.
Lighten It Up: Make your own lower-fat, but still crispy, baked fries from scratch. Toss two potatoes, cut into sticks, in 2 teaspoons canola oil, and bake them in a nonstick jellyroll pan at 450 degrees until crispy. Another option: Frozen steak fries typically have 3 grams (1.5 grams saturated) and 100 calories per 3-ounce serving.
8. The Fatty Food: Chicken Potpie
It’s hard to beat the flaky crust and creamy gravy of frozen chicken potpies. But the numbers add up fast with a popular brand, which has about 41 grams of fat (14 grams saturated) and 670 calories.
Lighten It Up: Cook up a chunkier chicken potpie casserole at home with shredded rotisserie chicken and assorted veggies. Make your own homemade gravy using reduced-fat canned cream of chicken or mushroom soup, and add in the chicken and veggies. Then top the mixture with whole wheat piecrust, which cuts the amount of crust in half and reduces the fat to about 12 grams (4 grams saturated fat) and 300 calories per serving.
9. The Fatty Food: Deep-Dish Cheese Pizza
Whether it’s from your grocer’s freezer or a pizza parlor, one slice of deep-dish cheese pizza can have at least 20 grams of fat (10 grams saturated) and 350 calories.
Lighten It Up: When you’re craving that deep-dish taste, try an easy recipe for individual pizzas at home. Top whole wheat bagel halves, whole wheat English muffin halves, or a whole wheat pita pocket (not halved) with pizza or pesto sauce, shredded reduced-fat cheese, and veggie toppings. Pop in the toaster oven or regular oven broiler until the cheese is bubbly.
10. The Fatty Food: Caesar Salad
Even if you toss your salad at home, 2 tablespoons of a bottled regular-calorie Caesar dressing totals about 18 grams of fat (3 grams saturated) with 170 calories.
Lighten It Up: Skip the croutons, and whip up your own salad dressing. Put the following in a food processor or blender: a teaspoon of minced or crushed garlic, about 6 anchovy fillets, 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon drained capers (rinsed), 3/4 teaspoon dried mustard, 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pulse to make a puree. Add 1/4 cup olive oil or canola oil in a slow, steady stream until a creamy emulsion forms. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl, and stir in 1/4 cup lower-fat sour cream or plain yogurt and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. If the dressing is too thick, add a tablespoon or two of low-fat milk.