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Pizza is a universally loved comfort food, but for health-conscious individuals, the guilt that often accompanies indulging in a traditional pizza can be a real struggle, However, you shouldn’t sacrifice your health to savour a slice. The secret lies in making wise choices.

Healthier, Guilt Free Pizza Hacks 

Here’s how I get to enjoy pizza, but without the guilt.

1. Opt for a Whole Wheat or Gluten Free base

The foundation of any pizza is its base, and making a healthy choice starts here. Traditional pizza bases are typically made from refined white flour, which lacks the nutritional benefits of whole grains. Choosing a whole wheat base offers a wealth of health advantages. Whole wheat is high in dietary fibre, which assists digestion. Other healthier options include low-carb, gluten-free alternatives, such as cauliflower, zucchini and chickpea. 

2. Load Up on Veggies

One of the easiest and most effective ways to make your pizza healthier is by piling on the vegetables. Veggies provide a plethora of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibre. Here are some veggie toppings that can elevate your pizza’s nutritional profile:

  • Spinach: Rich in iron and calcium, spinach adds a mild, earthy flavour to your pizza.
  • Bell Peppers: These peppers come in various colours and offer a sweet, crunchy texture.
  • Mushrooms: Low in calories and high in antioxidants, mushrooms are a flavorful addition.
  • Broccoli: Packed with vitamins C and K, broccoli adds a delightful crunch.
  • Tomatoes: Fresh tomatoes provide vitamin C and a juicy burst of flavour.
  • Red Onions: These add a hint of sweetness and a dash of colour.
  • Zucchini: Thinly sliced zucchini creates a tender and slightly sweet topping.

3. Choose Lean Proteins

Opt for lean protein sources to avoid excessive saturated fats and calories. Some healthy protein options for your pizza include:

  • Grilled Chicken: Skinless, boneless chicken breast or thigh meat is a lean choice.
  • Turkey Sausage: Turkey sausage offers a flavorful alternative to traditional pork sausage.
  • Shrimp: These seafood delicacies are low in calories and high in protein.
  • Tofu: Tofu is a protein-rich topping derived from soya suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

4. Be Mindful of Cheese

Cheese is known for its calorie density, high sodium content, and status as a leading source of saturated fat. Consuming excessive saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels. Yet, cheese remains an integral part of the pizza experience. So, how can one strike a balance?

To enjoy the cheesy goodness of pizza, follow these tips:

  • Opt for Part-Skim Cheese: Many pizzerias offer part-skim or reduced-fat cheese options lower in saturated fat while retaining traditional cheese’s creamy texture and flavour.
  • Choose Mozzarella or Ricotta Over Cheddar or Gouda: Mozzarella and ricotta (made from whey protein) are relatively low in fat and calories. At the same time, cheddar and gouda are higher in fat and calories.
  • Go Light on Cheese: Instead of piling on heaps of cheese, use a moderate amount to maintain the taste while reducing the calorie load.
  • Choose Feta or Goat Cheese: These cheeses have a stronger flavour, allowing you to use less while still enjoying the taste.

5. Control Portion Sizes

Even a healthy pizza can become a calorie bomb if you overeat. Here are some portion control strategies to consider:

  • Share with Others: Splitting a pizza with a friend or family member can help you enjoy a delicious meal without consuming excessive calories.
  • Order Small or Personal Sizes: Many pizzerias offer personal-sized pizzas, automatically limiting your portion size.
  • Choose Thin Crust: Thin-crust pizzas generally have fewer calories than their thick-crust counterparts, making it easier to manage your portions.
  • Pair with a Side Salad: Complement your pizza with a side salad of fresh greens and vegetables. This will help you fill up on nutritious, low-calorie foods.

Bottom line

Eating should not be a punishment. Denying ourselves of good food and fun food is also not an option. That’s why being conscious of ways to eat well, but healthier is important. When you eat healthier it protects you against many chronic noncommunicable diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Eating a variety of foods and consuming less salt, sugars and saturated and industrially-produced trans-fats, are essential for healthy diet. 

 

Murray Hewlett

Murray Hewlett

Murray Hewlett is the founding CEO of Affinity Enterprises. His vision is to make South Africans healthier and enhance the quality of their lives. Affinity Enterprises exists in response to an ever-growing need for affordable health services. He serves on the Executive Committees and Board of Directors of many for-profit and non-profit organisations.  He obtained his MBA from Charles Sturt University in Australia in 2008. He is currently a Doctoral candidate at the University of Liverpool and earned a B.Sc. degree from Wits University in 1996. Murray lives in Johannesburg and is a father to two daughters and two sons. He enjoys travelling, the ocean, motorsports, technology and wellness.

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