Make smarter choices when you eat junk food.
1. Control cravings
Complete deprivation is not the solution. A denied craving can quickly spiral out of control, leading to bingeing or overeating. If you're craving fries or chips, for example, eat a small serving of fries, or buy the mini 150-calorie bag of chips and be done with it.
Also to consider: a healthier alternative like chips made from blue corn. These have 20 percent more protein than their white corn counterparts—making them a healthy snack. The tinted snack gets its blue hue from anthocyanins, disease-fighting compounds also found in blueberries and red wine. Still, they have 140 calories and 7 grams of fat per 15-chip serving, so stop at a handful and scoop up salsa rather than creamy dips.
2. Indulge sensibly
Splurging on occasion is acceptable -- just don't get carried away and eat junk food all day long!
3. Avoid stocking treats in your cabinets or fridge
Buy something only when the craving hits and enjoy a small quantity. Then share or trash the rest.
4. Mix it up
Try eating something healthier along with the less-nutritious food, like a piece of fruit with your cheesecake. By eating the fruit first, you'll dull your appetite and be less likely to eat junk food for the rest of the day.
5. Count calories
Compare the amount of fat and calories found in healthy, filling snacks vs. less-healthful foods. For instance, a medium apple contains just 81 calories and no fat; a 1-ounce bag of pretzels has 108 calories and also no fat, and a container of low-fat fruit yogurt provides 231 calories and 2 grams of fat.
6. Focus on fat
Take extra care to read labels. After reviewing several types of packaged food, like cookies, snack cakes, and chips, researchers at the University of Minnesota found that less expensive items tend to have more trans fats than those that cost a little more. These processed fats, which have been shown to raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol level, may show up on ingredient lists as partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oil and shortening. While most manufacturers have cut back on the trans fats used in their products, some still haven't gone trans fat-free. The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of trans fat you eat to less than 1 percent of your total daily calories. To maintain your weight, no more than 25 percent of daily calories should come from fat.