Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on November 04, 2021



Sometimes you just gotta have it. But that doesn’t mean you have to have the deep-dish with a thick crust (with loads of carbs), extra cheese, and four kinds of meat (tons of calories and saturated fat). Go for a thin-crust veggie version, light on the cheese. Order a salad to help fill you up and add nutrients without extra calories.

Potato Chips

Potato Chips


You never can eat only one. And the fat, salt, and carbs add up. For a crunchy treat with a little more health appeal, try nuts. Their nutrients help your cells work, and their good fats keep you full and satisfied. Just keep an eye on portion size -- they have fats, too. You could also pop some popcorn. It’s high in fiber and low in calories -- as long as you watch the butter. Either one will satisfy hunger better than potato chips.




If you crave it, but want to cut down on the carbs, skip the flour-based noodles and use spaghetti squash instead. It’s great with a simple tomato sauce. You’ll cut calories and carbs by half -- or more -- compared with the same dish that has pasta. Add some lean ground beef or turkey breast if you want something a little heartier.




Whether it’s made with sour cream, cream cheese, or stuff that just looks like cheese, it’s hard to say no to this fatty party fare. Next time you have a shindig, switch to hummus. You’ll slash the fat and add protein from the chickpeas. While you’re at it, trade those less-than-healthy chips for all-you-can-eat veggies like bell pepper, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, and celery.




Many are loaded with simple carbs and sugars. Try oatmeal instead. The fiber helps fill you up and slows the absorption of calories into your bloodstream. That keeps your energy steady. It may even help you eat fewer calories over the course of the day.




A typical candy bar is full of sugar, unhealthy fats, and preservatives. If you want the sweet stuff, go for some dark chocolate. It can lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to your brain and heart, and protect cells from damage. Look for a plain bar with a cocoa content of 70% to 85%. Skip fillers like nuts and fruit, and don’t eat more than 1 ounce a day.

French Fries

French Fries


Skip the deep-fried version and bake them instead. You’ll save calories: A small order of fast-food fries has 230 calories, but a whole medium baked potato has 130-140 calories. Check the grocery store for frozen fries you can pop into the oven. Just be careful what you put on them -- sour cream, butter, or ketchup can add lots of calories and fat.




They come in sets of a dozen for a reason, right? Wrong. These nutrient-free sugar bombs are custom-made to pile on pounds and leave you hungry for more. If you want a breakfast that will keep you going all day, try eggs or cottage cheese. They’re both nutritious, satisfying, and full of protein that will give you an even supply of energy for a longer chunk of time. 

White Bread

White Bread


It has very little fiber to slow the release of sugar into your blood and expand to make you feel full. Look for a package that lists whole grain or whole wheat as the first ingredient.

Ice Cream

Ice Cream


You start off thinking you’ll just have a spoonful and wind up eating the whole carton. That’s a lot of fat, sugar, and calories. If you want to splurge on something cool and creamy, switch to sorbet or fat-free frozen yogurt. You might even try a carton of plain Greek yogurt with some berries and nuts. You’ll get calcium along with protein, plus fiber and other nutrients from the add-ons.




They’re fine as a treat from time to time, but it’s better to eat your fruits and veggies whole. Plus, it’s easy to eat too much too quickly. Calories and carbs, from fruit especially, can add up quickly. 




It’s mostly tomatoes right? Well, yes -- and sugar. Lots of sugar. Four grams in every tablespoon to be exact. If you want something tomato-y, make some homemade tomato salsa. You can add a bit of cayenne pepper for a spicy little kick.




If you want to have cake for breakfast, just do it. Calling it a muffin won’t make it any better for you. It’s full of refined white flour, sugar, and fat -- which packs in the calories but doesn’t help your hunger. Try a whole grain English muffin with peanut butter instead. You’ll get complex carbs -- which absorb more slowly -- less sugar, and lots of protein.

White Rice

White Rice


It breaks down into sugar and gets into your blood too quickly. But there are things you can do to help. First, pick the right type. Basmati, for example, has a lower glycemic index (GI) -- it breaks down into sugar more slowly. Second, don’t overcook it, which can raise GI. Special rice cookers can help. And as with potatoes, more “resistant starches” -- that are good for your gut and slow digestion -- will form as the rice cools. Brown rice is a good alternative, especially if you add in vegetables for fiber.




Don’t get caught with your hand in the cookie jar. The carbs, sugar, saturated fat, and extra ingredients you get from processed treats don’t do you any favors. For a snack that will soothe your sweet tooth and give you a protein boost to boot, try graham crackers with a dab of peanut butter.

Show Sources


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USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28: “Basic Report: 09507, Fruit juice smoothie, Naked Juice, Mighty Mango,” “Basic Report: 18140, Cake, yellow, commercially prepared, with chocolate frosting, in-store bakery,” “Basic Report: 18274, Muffins, blueberry, commercially prepared (Includes mini-muffins),” “Basic Report: 19411, Snacks, potato chips, plain, salted.”


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The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “A review of the effects of nuts on appetite, food intake, metabolism and body weight.”


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