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All Things Health In The Real World

Updated on February 5, 2015

Top Ten Cheat Foods That Can Make you Crack

As many of us make the push towards healthier lifestyles and food choices, giving up some of our favorite snacks and meals can prove to be a real challenge. Between the kale chips and rice cakes, many traditional diet foods can come up short in the flavor department. Even when making healthier substitutions, sometimes it cannot satisfy out desire for the real thing. Here are some of the top ten cheat food favorites that give those of us cutting back, the wandering eye.


Not only does this delectable dessert manage to be cake, it also contains an ingredient Wisconsinites dub a food group it it of itself, cheese! Well- cream-cheese that is. Yes, nothing quite carries the same textures and flavors we have come to crave quite like a cheesecake, and from classic New York to Garlic, chances are there is bound to be a flavor out there to tickle your particular pallet.

At an average of 350 calories for a mere one-twelth of the cake, it's no wonder people miss it so much when they are trying to cut back. Cheesecake is believed to have been first served to the Olympians in Greece as far back as 776 B.C. And just taking a look at Michael Phelp's daily calorie burn might explain why


Whether you're one who enjoys tortilla chips with everything on them, or you feel a deeper connection to the plain yellow-cheese and corn chips served at your favorite sports game, nachos definitely belong on a list of foods that make you want to say: “What diet?” The alumni of the University of Kansas certainly seemed to think so back in 2012 when they created the biggest plate of nachos that measured in at two feet wide, 80 feet long and ten inches deep and weighing in at almost 5,000 lbs. Talk about a cheat meal!

The average plate of nachos at a mid-range sit-down restaurant runs at around 1,300 calories for a food that is widely considered to be only an appetizer, while it's sports-game counterpart measures in at only a few hundred calories less. Still, this savory favorite dates as far back as 1943, and even though it's not as old as the cheesecake, it is clear that this fan food will stick around for decades to come.

Chinese Food

I know what you're thinking: “What? Chinese!? Aren't the Chinese some of the healthiest people in the world?” Unfortunately our explanation for this food ending up on the list is a little bit complicated. While Asian countries are often marked as some of the healthiest places to live, boasting many of the lowest obesity rates in the world, when we talk about bad-for-you Chinese, we're specifically referring to the Americanized version.

While most traditional Asian dishes contain a wide variety of vegetables and grilled lean meats, the most popular “Chinese food” in the USA is chow mein, which translates to stir-fried noodles, and as many of us know, in the “eating healthier” realm, fried food is usually something off limits. Even one of the most popular meats ordered in the USA (Orange chicken) is breaded and fried. When Chinese food came to the USA in the 1900s it was quickly changed to appeal to the American pallet. Unfortunately for us, this usually means robbing the food of many of it's healthy qualities.

Fun fact, did you know it is believed that the fortune cookie originated from California?


Ahh, chips. Just thinking about them makes me want to rub my fingertips across my shirt. One of the things about chips that makes it a cheat-meal-staple is their scope of ease and availability. Just pop into any gas station or supermarket, heck even a food vendor on the street, and you are likely to find chips of one kind or another. The best part is, they are usually cheap an require no preparation. A true grab-and-go convenience that satisfies our deep human desire for salt and having “an entire bag of something to ourselves.”

Fortunately, there are many companies that have seen how much chips are loved and many of them have developed healthier and lower calorie options for America's favorite side dish. From veggie chips to fat free and organic, the chip has done a fantastic job at diversifying. Not only that, but the sheer number of chip flavors that exist are mind-blowing and includes varieties as wild as Crab or, Maple Moose.


Tacos, just like chips, can come in a large variety, especially across the United States. This is another food that we have adopted and and absolutely run away with. While the traditional tacos are served on a soft corn tortilla with white cheese, this Mexican dish has quickly diversified to include flour, wheat and even low carb tortilla varieties that can both be fried, baked or left soft. Covered in more different types of cheese than you can imagine and stuffed with almost any meat (or even none at all!) the taco in my opinion, tastes best sitting in a pool of it's own grease, but hey, that's jut me!

The most popular taco peddler in the USA is Taco Bell, which sold over 500 Million of it's Dorito's Locos Tacos in just over the first year that they hit the market, which is funny considering it's been argued multiple times that: “Uhmm, those aren't even like, real tacos guys.” Still, the numbers are in, and whether they are “real” or not, tacos end up in thousands of people's cheat meals.


No naughty food list would be complete without the doughnut.. donut? Looks like we can't even agree completely on how to spell the word (though doughnut is more common in the USA) and why should we? With so many to choose from and often times, available together in one box, maybe one spelling isn't enough! The doughnut is the only food that makes it on our list that is considered a breakfast food, and for good reason. Only one seriously irresistible, hot, sweet, ball of fried dough could make you choose to throw out your dietary inhibitions before 9AM.

It could be argued that one of the doughnut’s biggest fans is Phillip Santoro, who is 2014, became the world record holder for the fastest person to eat a jelly-filled doughnut (without hands or licking lips) by consuming it in 11.41 seconds. I wonder how many he could eat in a day if he got an early start like some of the rest of us?


This food goes without saying. I mean look at a burger. Really. Just take a moment to look at one. Anyone who has bit into a really good burger knows why it's hard to turn them down. At this point, it seems difficult to throw a rock without hitting a food place (Or at least someone who has a favorite one) that serves this king of cheat food.

The burger is thought to have been invented in Athen's Texas in the 1800's, though this belief is widely argued. It makes sense though. Surely if big things come from Texas, and so do steers, they were bound to make a burger sooner or later. Still, despite being known for big things, the largest burger reported by The Guinness Book of World Records, was made in Minnesota by The Black Bear Casino, and reportedly took a crane to flip. That's not even the best part though. The best part was that it had bacon!

Fried Chicken

Chicken has long been considered to be one of the more healthy and lean meats. Still, throw it in some breading and hot grease, and you can fly chicken deep into the cholesterol-crusted heart of cheat-meal land.

When fried chicken was first eaten, it was shown to be a signs of wealth. All that has changed though now that you can find it on many dollar menu's or, for cheap at the grocery store if it's been too long since they made it. (Hey, we're not judging!) Although fried chicken is still sold for a little more per pound than it's fierce competitor, ground beef. The average chicken breast runs at around 500 calories so, fried chicken might not be the worst cheat food, but it is certainly one of the hardest to resist.

Ice Cream

Take a look into almost any home freezer and one of the most common things you will find in Ice cream. And why not? It's simple, comes in many different flavors and at an average of 150-250 calories a serving, it can't be all that bad now can it? Wrong.

For many people trying to walk the healthy strait-and-arrow, ice cream is a slippery slope. A rocky road if you will (Alright, I'll stop I promise.) This is due to issues with portion control. How many of us have sat down to a pint of our favorite Ben and Jerry's flavor? Not so bad until you realize that the average pint of Ice Cream is supposed to serve four. Still, since it's origination before the 1300's, ice cream has become the treat we all scream for and sometimes, that milky-creamy spoonfull is exactly what we need to hit the spot.


Pizza. Did you expect any other food to be sitting pretty at number one on our list? Pizza, the king and ruler supreme of all junk food. We have it delivered directly to our doors and top it with anything under the sun. From pineapple to M&M's, from shrimp to chicken nuggets to cheeseburgers, yes most likely every item on our list had made it to the top of a pizza at least one time or two. How many different combinations could there possibly be? There's no way to tell for sure. You're in pizza's kingdom now, and there are no rules.

In a poll conducted in 2013, it was discovered that the number one topping across all fifty states was pepperoni. No surprise there. What is interesting however is just how differently pizza is topped across the world. In India, the favorite is pickled ginger while in Brazil, they prefer peas. The Japanese prefer squid while the Costa Ricans enjoy coconut. However you top it, there's no topping pizza, and that's why it still remains number one.

So there you have it, our top ten list of favorite cheat foods. More than likely if you've made it to the bottom of this, you are feeling a little bit hungry. Fear not. Due to rising health concerns, the availability of healthier versions of our favorite foods has spread like wildfire. Even so, the original versions of delicious dishes like these can be included in most any diet or health plan, it's all about balance and moderation. If not well, there's always next January!


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