The life of a fit-girl-in-progress in a big city can be full of fried and greasy ghosts. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not immune to cravings, but I have found that completely abandoning my lean, clean, and green eating habits leaves me feeling sluggish, sick and not my best self. And so with every neon-glow of the corner Chinese takeout spot or pizza joint, there is the choice: to cheat, or not to cheat?
Cheat meals. We hear about them all the time. Plenty of people love ‘em and swear by ‘em. But, the very definition of cheat is to “act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage,” and that just isn’t my thing. Too often, I find that cheat meals are a part of entire cheat days (or weekends or weeks) surrounded by excuses and emotions. And so my personal philosophy is, why cheat yourself when you can treat yo’self, girl?!
A healthy lifestyle is not about deprivation, it’s all about balance – smart, strategic balance. Like any other human, I love sweets and any combination of hot cheese & bread, but I also know that I have a history of abusing these foods. To help scratch the temptation itch, I’ve come up with what I like to call Craving Compromises. Craving Compromises are conscious meal choices that, when eaten in moderation, satisfy the urge to stray from the straight & narrow without totally derailing the tracks.
Here are my favorite Craving Compromises for some of my most coveted unhealthy eats:
- The Sammy Craving. (Hoagie, Panini, Grilled Cheese, Cheesesteak – you name it, I like it).
- Opt for a hearty whole wheat (or GF) wrap. I typically go for turkey (ideally nitrate/nitrite free), lettuce, tomato, avocado and cheddar cheese – keep it dry. Craving Compromise tip: Avocado keeps your sandwich creamy without any full-of-artificial-ingredients dressings or spreads, and 2 slices of cheddar totally satisfies the need for cheese. Take it home and throw it on a George Foreman and you are living in warm panini heaven.
- The Sweet Tooth Craving. (Chocolate, Candy, and Desserts galore)
- Whip Up Something Decadent. Start with one cup plain Greek yogurt (I love Fage Total Zero). Mix in any (or hey, all) of the following: cacoa powder, grainless granola, dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs, fresh fruit (I love raspberries or sliced banana). Top with a drizzle of honey or all natural nut butter. Craving Compromise Tip: Take this tip to your local frozen yogurt shop with your girls! Fill your cup with plain fro-yo and top with fresh fruits and a drizzle of honey.
- Make It a Perfect Fit. When Tone It Up founders Karena & Katrina couldn’t find an honest protein powder to recommend, they developed Perfect Fit protein and a slew of sweet, heavenly recipes: Perfect Fit Brownie, Chocolate Donuts, Chocolate Mug Cake.
- Pick the Right Package. Nutrition labels are key! Look for easy-to-pronounce, simple ingredients. Steer clear of added sugars and crazy chemicals. Try swapping beloved mini frosted donuts with LaraBar Bites. These simply made sweets are one of my favorite pre-packaged snacks.
- The Grease Craving. (Hello Pizza, Mozzarella Sticks and French Fries!)
- Pick Your Parlor Wisely. When possible, branch out from the big chains and look local. Some of your neighborhood pizza parlors may have a better alternative to the traditional pie. Start with a base of gluten free crust and organic marinara. Top with loads of veggies and finish off with light shaved or grated parmesan or fresh mozzarella. Craving Compromise Tip: Choosing a lighter cheese option saves majorly on the grease factor and spares your slice a painful napkin dab.
- Get to the Good Stuff. When it comes to cheese, skip the fried disguises (I’m lookin’ at you mozzarella sticks) and get right to the crown jewel. For a special occasion, experiment with gourmet cheese from your grocery store or local farmers market! Serve with stoneground wheat or GF crackers.
- Don’t Discriminate. Sweet potatoes make great fries, too! With less calories, less total carbs, and more fiber than white potatoes, sweet potatoes pack a nutritional punch.
- Choose Your Crunch. Try swapping your favorite bag of chips with a serving of Biena Chickpea Snacks. These salty, crunchy garbanzo beans contain more than double the protein and fiber of classic Lays – and the best part, they don’t leave your fingers full of grease!