Why do we like junk food so much? Why is it that our bodies prefer high calorie density foods over low calorie reduced fat foods? Is it all sensory related, or does junk food simply accommodate our need for convenience in this new jet-setting age?

The scientific explanation would be that neurons in our brain can actually calculate how much pleasure will be derived from the eating and digesting of a particular food. The goal of the brain is to maximize the pleasure of that experience, so given the choice of two foods; the brain is always going to choose the higher calorie food. The logical explanation is that we are a society inundated with fast food and vending machines, which makes it that much harder to make healthy choices. Our children have fallen prey to this world of quick, tasty and convenient, unaware of the health risks they face when they are older.

Breaking from your junk food habit is not easy, but with the right motivation and some tasty, healthy alternatives, you’ll be on your way to living a healthier lifestyle and maybe even lose weight! Healthy eating may seem like an impossible task, but it doesn’t need to be, at least not with a little creative planning, a few essentials in your fridge or pantry, and an open mind to try new things. The key to kicking your junk food habit is learning how to prepare some low fat healthy alternatives that mimic the taste of your junk food triggers.

Cleaning: The first thing you need to do is clear your pantry and refrigerator of all food with no nutritional value. That means any and all temptation. Start stocking your kitchen pantry with nutritional foods, snacks, fresh fruit and vegetables, and replace your processed meats with leaner cuts of meat, such as chicken and turkey. Substitute whole wheat bread for white bread. Keep in mind that in order to take advantage of the health benefits of whole wheat and whole grain bread, it must be labeled, "100% whole wheat," and not just "wheat." Other "white" products that you can substitute with "whole wheat" are pasta and rice. There are many varieties of rice that are available in whole grain; short grain brown, long grain brown, quinoa, spelt and couscous, all of which provide nutrients that white rice does not. Pasta is available in whole wheat, and although takes a little getting used to because of its density, when combined with a few key ingredients, can make a powerhouse of a meal! Fish is one of the healthiest choices for a high-quality protein, because it’s low in saturated fat, and contains many vitamins and minerals. Try to aim for a couple of times a week, including a portion of oily fish, which contains Omega -3 fatty acids, essential for heart health and childrens’ growth and development. Some examples of oily fish are: salmon, tuna, mackerel and trout; examples of non-oily fish are: cod, shark and swordfish. By making these healthy foods more accessible, you’ll start to think of nutritional options first and you may even prefer them over the junk food in the long run.

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No Excuses!: "I don’t know how to cook," "I’m not good at that," "It takes too long." There are hundreds, if not thousands of healthy dishes out there that take 15 minutes or less preparation time and are simple to make. Rachel Ray has an assortment of "15 Minute Meals" and "30 Minute Meals" books that will cover deliciously different dinners for the whole year! You can prepare for the week or plan one meal at a time. Setting aside a few hours on the weekend to plan meals for your week, will save you the hassle of figuring out, "what am I going to eat tonight?" It will also allow you much deserved relaxation time in the evening.

For every junk food craving you have, there is a healthy alternative equally as delicious! When making your food choice, remember to consider vitamins and minerals. Now that you are aware of the healthy options available to you, you should have no problem saying "good riddance" to junk food, and "hello" to good wholesome food. Here are a few of my favorite healthy dinner ideas & junk food alternatives to get you started. If you love pasta as much as I do, these recipes will get you excited with their taste, aesthetic appeal and ease with which to make.

Fusilli w/Swiss Chard, Garbanzo Beans & Bacon

Swiss chard, if you’re not familiar, is often overlooked. It is related to the beet, is colorful, tasty, and loaded with nutrients, vitamin A, K and C. The edible portion is the leaf and stalk. Cut ribs and stems into 1-inch pieces and leaves into 2-inch pieces; rinse Swiss chard in large bowl of cold water to remove any dirt; transfer to colander. In skillet, cook bacon cut into half inch strips, until brown. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. To bacon fat in skillet, add garlic and crushed red pepper; cook 30 seconds. Add Swiss chard, beans and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cover and cook for 2 minutes until Swiss chard begins to wilt. Uncover and cook for 5 additional minutes until stems are crisp. Drain pasta and return to sauce pot. Stir in Swiss chard mixture and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Sprinkle in bacon, toss & serve!

Whole Wheat Penne w/Broccoli & Sausage

This is a healthy one all across the board. You can save yourself and your arteries approximately a third of the fat, by swapping turkey for pork sausage. The whole wheat pasta helps lower your cholesterol, and broccoli contains beta-carotene, vitamin C, A, E, zinc and potassium, all of which are good anti-cancer agents. The best way to cook broccoli is to blanch it or steam it, which preserves the nutrients in it. Thinly slice the sausage and cook in skillet until brown; add sliced grape tomatoes and broccoli sauteed in a drop of olive oil and garlic to sausage mixture; add drained whole wheat pasta to mixture and toss. Add in chopped basil, sprinkle with grated Romano cheese & serve!

Gamelli w/Asparagus & Pancetta

Pancetta, is an Italian bacon which is unsmoked and cured with salt, pepper and other spices. It’s available in any Italian market and most supermarkets. This is another quick and easy dish, with the asparagus providing a good source of folic acid, potassium and fiber. Blanch the asparagus for 1-2 minutes until bright green and remove in strainer, refreshing under cold water. While pasta cooking, heat olive oil in deep skillet and add thin strips of pancetta (approx. 7 min); add asparagus and 1 bell pepper (orange or red), cooking for 1-2 minutes until crisp. Remove from heat. Add pasta to skillet, tossing mixture. Add Padano or Reggiano cheese & serve!

The recipes above were found on: http://delish.com

Katie Olivia Rose is an avid fitness and weight loss enthusiast. If you are looking to lose weight effectively and want more great quick weight loss tips for FREE, visit us at http://www.QuickWeightLoss-Tips.net

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