Just about every person, nurse or not, will have gone through the painfully endless cycle of "evaluating diet-getting horrified-resolve to cut out junk food –persevere for a very short time-start to binge again-feel the guilt" and then the cycle starts all over again.

As such, instead of just cutting out the junk completely and suppressing your stomach’s urges, why not try to approach this whole junk food issue from a different angle?

1. Pizza

The ultimate temptation by being just a call away, the greasy toppings should put anyone’s waistline on high alert, not to mention its addictiveness: First you tell yourself it is just one slice, then you reach for another and another… and the vicious cycle begins.

Making this work for you: Replace the white crust with whole wheat dough. If you are adventurous, try making a cauliflower crust, or opt for mini bites with egg plants or mushrooms.

2. Cheeseburgers

Fatty ground beef and cheese are what make this meal so satisfyingly delicious – but are also what piles on the kilos.

Making this work for you: Try making your own patty with extra lean beef and completing it with a whole wheat bun. Alternatively, turkey meat is a healthier substitute as it is leaner too.

3. Potato Chips

Chips are instant mid-day boosters, and as one famous brand’s tagline goes: Once you pop, you can’t stop. Unfortunately, commercial chips are commonly laden with carbohydrates, fat and salt – the three main culprits bent on expanding your waistline.

Making this work for you: Be creative and try fruity or vegetarian chips using carrots, kale, beet, oranges or even apples. All it takes is some slicing, rubbing with olive oil, and baking.

4. Soft drinks

It’s hard to resist soft drinks, even knowing that the sugar levels are through the roof and despite being told that too much of it could potentially affect the brain. This is partially due to its refreshing quality, and partially due to our taste-buds craving flavor no matter the cost.

Making this work for you: If flavor is the issue, just adding a slice of lemon or throw a strawberry into your water will take care of this in double time. If refreshing is a must-have quality, even replacing water with unflavoured soda water would be better than opting for soft drinks.

5. Pancakes

This breakfast option is commonly mistaken to be less calorie-intensive than it actually is, because it is a very light and non-filling meal. However, the batter used to make pancakes is quickly converted into sugar, and its common condiments, like syrup, are no less high in sugar, hence considering it a healthy option is far from accurate.

Making this work for you: Choose extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil to make your pancakes, and top these with organic berries or a dab of butter instead the syrup. A much less sugary pancake can also be made with two ingredients – a banana and two eggs – and it’s simple: Just mash the banana, whisk in the eggs, and cook these in whatever shape you prefer in a heated pan for 30 seconds.

6. Chocolates

Chocolates are well known for mood-lifting properties, but the fact remains that too much of it still leads to a high risk of obesity. Though dark chocolate – thankfully – appears to bring with it a multitude of health benefits, many of us still prefer the creamy sweet smoothness of milk chocolate, which has much fewer good points associated with it.

Making this work for you: Before you get rid of that that Cadbury though, consider getting creative with your chocolate indulgences. A frozen chocolate banana, easily enough made by dipping half a frozen banana in 2 squares of melted chocolate, would make a substantial snack due to the banana, and still provide the chocolatey goodness craved.

7. Ice Cream

Simultaneously the most irresistible snack as well as the bane of every diet’s existence, little needs to be said about just how good ice cream tastes. Yet, considering it is, after all, essentially made out of sugar and cream, just as little needs to be said about its limited health properties – and that is worrying.

Making this work for you: As always, there is no need to be absolute and remove ice cream entirely – try a vegan option using blended frozen bananas and blueberries or walnuts, a strawberry-coconut milk variant or even a yoghurt-based one.

8. Pasta

Layers and layers of cheese and cream are what make pasta dishes taste so good, but at the same time are extremely detrimental to every diet. The carbohydrate content is also most likely through the roof, way beyond healthy servings.

Making this work for you: Ever heard of spaghetti squash? This interesting vegetable has been lauded by many food gurus as a great pasta replacement. Roasting it correctly will yield strands of ‘spaghetti’ that can be topped up with regular spaghetti condiments. Another alternative is to slice up some zucchini to make “noodles”, edible baked or raw. Mix in a generous serving of carrots, peppers and onions and peanut butter, and voila, a delicious variant of Thai pasta is born.

With a little creativity and effort, there is absolutely no need to sacrifice your favourite junk foods in search of that trim waistline. MIMS

Read more:
Nurses, here are eight ways to get more out of your food
Nurses, see these myths busted: 7 foods that aren’t as healthy as expected