There’s no place for guilt when it comes to eating. Despite some recent trends, we’re not morally judged when we eat, and we’re not sinning by choosing to eat certain foods. That said, there are many foods that improve our Good Food Karma – and some that equally drag it down.

So how can we take some of the foods that aren’t so great for us – but undeniably love – and improve our food karma? Here are five guilty pleasure foods that, with a few easy tweaks, can actually be good for you.

1. Pizza

Most of us love a pizza, but it’s not usually the best choice where nutrition is concerned. Traditional Italian pizza, though, is nothing like the kilojoule-laden options many food outlets offer us today. Original pizza was peasant fare and a cheap, delicious (and pretty nutritious) meal.

The key to improving today’s modern pizza is to return to its roots. A thin crusty base – preferably wholemeal – smeared with a rich, thick tomato sauce (which is also a terrific source of antioxidants), scattered with veggie toppings, olives and a few anchovies (omega-3 rich) or a little leftover meat; then, a handful of quality mozzarella (protein and calcium rich). Serve with a generous green salad dressed with lemon and extra virgin olive oil and your weekly pizza binge is now a satisfying, healthy meal.


2. Fried Chicken

Deep-fried chicken tends to be fried in all the wrong kids of oil – or oil that has been repeatedly used, increasing the chance of bad fats ending up in your meal. Plus, fast food tends to be severely lacking plant food and is usually served up with equally unhealthy sides (fries, tomato sauce and soft drink equals bad food karma).

Solution? Make it at home. Cut some chicken breast into about four pieces and coat them in flour, a whisked egg and wholemeal breadcrumbs (you can make these yourself in a food processor from day old wholegrain bread). Spray them with extra virgin olive oil and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper so they don’t stick. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 30 minutes, or until brown and cooked through, turning halfway through cooking. You can make homemade chips in the oven at the same time – cut potatoes into chips leaving the skin on, spray with extra virgin olive oil and bake for about an hour. Serve with a lovely big mixed salad.


3. Hamburgers

There’s a wealth of difference between a typical fast food burger and one made in a local restaurant using fresh ingredients. Look for burgers made with lean meat, lots of veggies and if possible, served on a wholegrain bun. Regular burger buns have an extremely high GI – you can tell the way they start to dissolve in your mouth.


4. Donuts

In the language of dietitians, we call foods such as donuts ‘discretionary foods’ – meaning, they offer us little to no nutrition other than kilojoules. But they do taste good to some.

The plus side for donut lovers? If eaten on occasion, they don’t really affect our health and can add to our enjoyment and relationship with food. Make it mildly healthier by reducing the sugar, or replacing some of the flour. If you love donuts, enjoy one – but make it a treat, not a daily occurrence.