Healthy Snack Alternatives for Your Favorite Junk Food 

In today’s world, there are thousands of different food options available in every supermarket, including very healthy fruits, vegetables, dairy, and whole grain ingredients. Eating healthy meals — such as a healthy and balanced stir fry with lots of vegetables and low-fat protein — can fight diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer, and immune disorders and help you live longer.

Unfortunately, this diverse array of amazing food options gives you access to tasty — but very unhealthy junk foods. Junk food might seem okay to eat once in a while, and if you do eat it very rarely, you’re probably okay. But eating bad foods daily — even in small amounts — can lead to significant weight gain, blood sugar problems, high blood pressure, and other dangers.

Thankfully, healthy snack alternatives for your favorite junk food are available, and these healthy alternatives to junk food not only help with your cravings but provide strong levels of vitamins and nutrients. Nutritious snack swaps like those on this list give you plenty of guilt-free snack options that should make it easier for you to enjoy a healthy and diverse diet with no fear.

Nutritious Alternatives to Common Junk Foods

The best healthy snack alternatives for your favorite junk food focus on providing a tasty meal that doesn’t impact your health too negatively. Healthy alternatives to junk food often have a satisfying crunch and diverse flavors that make these nutritious snack swaps so great to add to your diet. Here are several guilt-free snack options that might make the most sense for your diet.

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable With a Dip

If you struggle to eat enough fruit and vegetables every day — and most people do — try pairing them with a delicious hummus or Greek yogurt dip. These dips add a little touch of flavor to celery, carrots, and even apples and make them tastier. However, they don’t add any fat but contain large amounts of vitamins, minerals, and even antioxidants that can keep you healthier and happier.

a woman makes a snack

Seasoned Air-Popped Popcorn

Don’t pop your popcorn on a stove or use one of those buttery microwave bags — buy fresh kernels and air-pop them in an oil-free environment. Doing so cuts back on the extra fat and calories these toppings create. Furthermore, don’t butter your popcorn — that misses the whole point — but season it with light cheese, sea salt, cinnamon, honey, or even nutritious yeast for a great snack.

Baked Sweet Potato or Zucchini Chips

Do you like potato chips but can’t do the calories and fat anymore? Try baked sweet potato fries or zucchini chips. Homemade chips are very healthy when eaten in proper portions and can be easily flavored with healthy seasonings and herbs. Try to pair them with a healthy hummus or no-fat mustard to give them a little kick and satisfy your potato chip cravings.

Greek Yogurt With Granola and Berries

If you have a terrible sweet tooth and struggle to not eat candy bars, ice creams, and other rich desserts, make a Greek yogurt parfait with granola and berries. This healthy alternative satisfies your sweet tooth by adding healthy levels of sugar to your diet. Furthermore, yogurt, berries, and granola have tons of healthy ingredients that make this a fantastic dessert for people of all ages.

Nut Butter on Crackers or Apples

Choose your favorite nut butter — peanut butter is tasty but not super healthy, while almond and even sunflower seed butters are better for you — and spread them on whole-grain crackers or apples. The butters come with lots of protein and healthy fat (don’t worry, you NEED some fat in your diet), while the crackers and apples have fiber and other important nutrients to keep you healthy.

Mindful Snacking Strategies

The thing about snacking is that even unhealthy eating patterns can turn fruits and vegetables into a problem. As a result, you need to practice mindful snacking by focusing on paying close attention to what you’re eating and taking several steps to improve this process, including how you can:

  • Build a Diverse Snack: Did you notice anything about the healthy alternatives to junk food we mentioned in the previous section? Each had more than one food group, such as grains and dairy. Combining food groups helps to satisfy your hunger by bringing diverse ingredients to your gut.
  • Drink a Glass of Water First: Here’s a weird fact — your body often activates hunger instead of thirst when you’re dehydrated because it’s easier to do. So, if you feel hungry and want a snack, just sit down and drink a glass of water instead. It should fill you up a bit more.
  • Manage Your Portions: While you’re snacking, measure out a portion on a small plate and store the rest of your snacks after you’re done. Commit to just eating that small amount and eat till you’re satisfied. That doesn’t mean full — when you’re full, you’ve overeaten and may feel uncomfortable.
  • Eat Slowly: Did your parents tell you “slow down, nobody’s going to steal it” during meals? Fast eating is a common behavior but problematic because it’s harder on your digestion. Eat your guilt-free snack options slowly and methodically — it also helps you get more satisfied more quickly.
  • Plan Ahead: Getting into meal planning — especially for nutritious snack swaps — is critical for your health. Doing so helps you control your portions, minimizes overeating risks, and ensures that you get a diverse and tasty range of foods. Go for diversity — never eat the same snack twice a week.
a woman eats a snack

Healthy Snack Swaps for Specific Cravings

When choosing healthy snack alternatives for your favorite junk food, you can choose low-calorie types that still satisfy. That might seem hard to believe, but there are many healthy snack swaps that you can integrate into your diet to stay well-fed and satisfied. Let’s take a look at a few of these alternatives, including replacements for specific types of snack types that you may enjoy.

Crunchy Snacks

There’s just something so satisfying about the crunch of a potato chip — millions of people are addicted to it. If you find it hard to put your potato chips down, try crispy roasted chickpeas or kale chips. Both provide an amazingly dense nutritional value and also taste great! Trust us — when you season your chickpeas properly, you’ll never go back to potato chips again.

Sweet Treats

When your sweet tooth howls for some milk chocolate or ice cream, try dark chocolate or frozen banana bites instead. Go as dark as you can with your chocolate to get the most benefits, including antioxidants. Frozen banana bites provide a fun ice cream alternative that you can easily enjoy while watching television or after a particularly healthy meal — even your kids will love them!

Savory Indulgences

Looking for a savory snack that won’t expand your waistline? Try a homemade trail mix with delicious nuts and seeds. Making it at home lets you choose what ingredients you want and lets you choose salt-free alternatives that are better for your heart and body. Note — you should still limit yourself to no more than a half-cup per day to avoid getting too much fat in your diet.

Incorporating Nutritious Snacks into Daily Routine

If these healthy snack alternatives for your favorite junk food sound great to you, it’s important to know how to integrate them into your daily life. These healthy alternatives to junk food can keep you from eating poorly while at work or on the go, such as while on vacation. In time, you’ll find these nutritious snack swaps completely replace your favorite store-bought snacks — we promise.

Home Snacking

Here’s a great way to keep your guilt-free snack options easy to find without overdoing them — store a decent amount in a large plastic container on a counter in your kitchen. Put the rest in your pantry or in a hard-to-reach area that makes getting to them more difficult. Placing the kitchen-bound snacks behind a door keeps them out of sight, meaning you’ll snack on them less frequently.

Work Snacking

You’ll spend the majority of your day at work and will probably need 2-3 snacks spread throughout the day. Find small, portion-sized plastic bags and add your snacks to these bags. Time eating them carefully throughout the day — every 2-3 hours should be more than enough to keep you satiated. Keep them stored on your desk or the work fridge to ensure that you don’t feel tempted to snack.

Travel Snacking

When you’re on-the-go, such as if you travel a lot for fun, need to transport your kids everywhere, or have a long commute, you should have a large container filled with portion-sized bags of snacks. Avoid having loose snacks in this container — placing them in portion bags makes them easier to enjoy. Obviously, you should have non-refrigerated foods in your car to avoid spoilage.

Addressing Common Concerns About Healthy Snacking

You probably have more than a few questions about healthy snack alternatives for your favorite junk food. That’s understandable! It’s often scary to make a big change, particularly with your diet. Let’s answer a few common myths about healthy snacks to ensure you’re eating properly.

Myth: Healthy Snacks Don’t Taste Good

Fact: While it’s true that healthy alternatives to junk food won’t have that intensely sweet or savory flavor of store-bought foods, that’s a good thing. They’ll have a more natural taste that’s still quite enjoyable and which keeps you and your children healthier. Frankly, we find them more delicious.

Myth: Healthy Snacks Aren’t Satisfying

Fact: Nutritious snack swaps are incredibly satisfying because they focus on diverse food groups and aren’t just empty calories. Your body naturally craves healthy foods, even if your impulses force you to eat unhealthy meals. Healthy snacks balance your gut biome and satisfy your hunger.

Myth: Healthy Snacks Can Be Eaten at Any Amount

Fact: Guilt-free snack options are much healthier than store-bought snacks but shouldn’t be mistaken for your core meals. Instead, they should still be eaten in balance and moderation. One small snack between meals can help keep you satiated, but overeating is still unhealthy.

Photo of author

Stevie Compango, CNSC, CPT

Stevie is Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer for the past 10 years. He specializes in mobility and chronic pain management. His methods have helped thousands of clients improve the quality of their life through movement.

Recommended Articles