Pizza is automatically healthy because it has a little bit of all the main food groups. The sauce is made from tomatoes which is a veggie/fruit. Cheese is dairy. The crust is made from flour which comes from wheat which is a grain.
Okay, so that logic can be flawed sometimes…or a lot. But most of us have probably convinced ourselves of this at some point in our lives. “Pizza tastes like pure happiness, so I must convince myself it’s not bad for me.”
The fact of the matter is, pizza has gotten a bad rap, and I’m not cool with that. (Rhyming’s pretty great though.) We often load pizza up with, at the very least, fatty cheese, a sugary sauce, and a nutrient-lacking crust. Don’t even get me started on that glorious topping known as pepperoni.
I’m in the mindset that pizza should be enjoyed and not a restricted part of one’s diet. In fact, I eat pizza at least once a week. Why? Because I love it and life is too short to deprive yourself of good things. Since we eat pizza on a weekly basis in our house, I’ve found little ways to make it a little bit less sinful and a little bit more nutritious.
Is it completely guilt-free? Not exactly. But I make it work while still maintaining my happy weight. Here are my eight tips (one for every piece of the pie!) if you want to hold onto the joy that pizza brings your taste buds without sabotaging your healthy eating habits.
- Make it homemade. The best tip I can give you for fitting pizza into your healthy lifestyle is making it homemade. That way you know exactly what is going into it and have complete control. (Lately, I’ve been making ours with my homemade crust, deep dish pizza sauce, and a light layer of low-fat mozzarella.)
- Opt for a thin crust. Bonus points if it’s made with whole wheat flour! I’ve actually started turning my usual homemade pizza crust (which usually makes two) into three so we have a slightly thinner crust. Shockingly, we don’t even miss the extra dough.
- Use lower-fat versions of toppings. I’m not usually a big advocate for low- or non-fat products, but there are some good alternatives out there. My suggestions: low-fat cheese, turkey pepperoni, chicken sausage, chicken, etc.
- Add veggies. I don’t usually want veggies, per say, but I try to add at least a one or two to boost the nutrient content. Plus, having more toppings may help you get fuller on fewer pieces! Win.
- Go light on the toppings. Aside from veggies, it can help to not have such a heavy mozz hand. In addition to sprinkling less cheese, maybe don’t suffocate your pizza with pepperoni or other toppings that are a bit too easy to go overboard with. (You might find you don’t even miss the excess!)
- Use an alternative crust ingredient. I’ve experimented with a number of different crusts (i.e. quinoa, cauliflower, and tortilla), and I always come back to my whole wheat crust. It’s a difficult change for me; however, I know a lot of people who swear by cauliflower crusts! So don’t be afraid to branch out; maybe you’ll find a healthier alternative you love.
- Go for a different theme of pizza. I’m not talking a white pizza that uses alfredo instead of pizza sauce (although, you do you because those are delish). I’m referring to themes that aren’t just cheese + meat toppings. Try a light drizzle of olive oil instead of sauce. Maybe add some fruit to mix things up. There are a lot of innovative ideas out there that don’t rely on a blanket of fat-dense toppings!
- Dab the oil. Worse comes to worse, just don’t eat the pool of oil that’s sitting on top of a crater in the cheese or a curled-up pepperoni. Sure, you’d be “that guy” dabbing a napkin on your pizza, and it probably doesn’t make a significant difference, but I like to think every little bit helps!
And if you’re not particularly feeling any of those suggestions, you could also just eat pizza less often, consume fewer pieces at a time, or eat mega healthy throughout the day/week to make room for a decadent pizza.
Oh, and there’s always the option of saying “eff it” and eating pizza without a care in the world. Follow your heart. I’m not here to tell you how to live your life. Just trying to offer some advice from one pizza lover to another. 🙂
Are you a frequent pizza eater? What’s your go-to style?
Do you have any tips to add to my list of healthy tricks?