The struggle is real: You commit to eating healthier but you want to satisfy your sweet tooth. You make nutrition a priority but you can’t stop thinking about a cheeseburger and fries while you chomp on yet another celery stick.
Indulgence vs. health, it’s an internal battle – especially as we get a little older. If only there was a happy medium. Well, we’re here to tell you that healthy indulgent food is NOT an oxymoron. That’s right! You can have your metaphorical indulgent cake and eat it, too.
“Consumers are looking for indulgent products that provide a health benefit, says Joy Dubost, PhD, RD, food science communicator for the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). “They want to indulge in these products without feeling the associated guilt and possible negative health effects. Consumers are looking for ways to incorporate these types of products into their diet so they feel satisfied without compromising taste, convenience, and health.”
Here are eight incredibly healthy foods for you to enjoy in moderation that won’t add to your guilt or your waistline:
1. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is loaded with magnesium and is one of the most powerful sources of antioxidants. Dark chocolate is loaded with anti-inflammatory and protective properties. A 100-gram bar of dark chocolate (70–85% cocoa) contains 11 grams of fiber and is rich in iron, magnesium, selenium and other nutrients. Studies show a drastic reduction in heart disease risk among those who consume the most chocolate. Remember: We’re talking about dark chocolate; milk chocolate and white chocolate do not have near the nutritional value as dark chocolate.
2. Peanut Butter
All peanut butter is not the same. Take the time to compare labels and look for brands that use ground peanuts and salt. Steer clear of brands that include palm oil or high-fructose corn syrup and other unnatural ingredients. Peanut butter is an excellent source of protein, phosphorus and magnesium. Yes, peanut butter contains fat – just two tablespoons has about 15 grams – so portion control is important. If you want to combine dark chocolate with peanut butter, check out this recipe from Fit Foodie Finds for Protein Peanut Butter Cups. They are simple to make and are absolutely delish!
3. Lobster & Shrimp
Seafood and shellfish are generally considered an excellent source of lean, low-calorie protein. A 3 1/2-ounce serving of lobster contains 19 grams of protein, less than one gram of fat and only 89 calories. Lobster is also jam-packed with omega-3 fatty acids and may help reduce the risk of heart attack and cancer. Shrimp cocktail is another indulgent food that is nutritious. One jumbo shrimp has three grams of protein, only 15 calories and is low in fat and carbohydrates. A four-ounce serving of shrimp (about four to five) contains less than 100 calories and more than 10 grams of protein. While we’re talking about Omega fatty acids, it’s important to know that today’s common diet does not provide enough of these health-promoting oils. Grab some Omega + DHA Gummies to make sure you’re getting enough.
The avocado is an amazing fruit. Instead of being carb-dense like most other fruits, avocados are loaded with heart-healthy fats. They are also an excellent source of fiber, potassium and vitamin C. For a quick and healthy snack, mash an avocado and add chopped tomatoes, onion and a little cilantro. Squeeze a little lemon juice or lime juice. Tip: Skip the chips and dip into the guacamole with whole grain crackers, carrots, celery or cucumbers.
Yes, you can eat a big bowl of hearty chili. Just skip the beef and substitute with chicken or turkey or even tofu. Most chili is packed with goodness: protein, fiber, iron, vitamin C . . . and more. It will boost your immune system and help regulate blood sugar. Check out this tasty and healthy Turkey Chili recipe from Slender Kitchen.
6. Meat Loaf
Like chili, meat loaf is one of those comfort foods that people think of as unhealthy. Well, it depends on how you prepare it. Turkey meat is low in saturated fat, and it is a healthy source of protein, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B and selenium. We love this Turkey Meatloaf recipe from Eat Yourself Skinny.
7. Macadamia Nuts
Like most nuts, macadamia nuts are rich in nutrients. They help with digestion, heart health, weight management and blood sugar control. Macadamia nuts are rich in monounsaturated fats, a type of fat that helps your heart by lowering your total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. And for something extra special, enjoy a few macadamias with some dark chocolate.
8. Chocolate Milk
An ice-cold glass of chocolate milk has become a popular recovery drink for athletes. Drinking chocolate milk after a workout helps restore muscles quickly and replenishes what the body loses during exercise — including fluids, important nutrients and electrolytes (calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium) lost in sweat.
The bottom line is that it is possible to satisfy your cravings and still live a healthier lifestyle. We’re not suggesting you make a beeline for the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas, where they call their servers nurses and aim for maximum artery cloggage. We’re talking about being healthy while experimenting with new flavors. Look for more nutritious substitutions for your favorite comfort foods. And practice portion control. Go ahead and indulge . . . mindfully. You got this!