Everybody has a few favorite comfort foods that get them through stressful periods and bring back happy memories from the past. Unfortunately, many of these comfort foods go straight to our base instincts to consume sugar, fat, and sodium in as large a quantity as possible. Pasta, ice cream, fast food, and fried foods all fit into the comfort food category because while they offer little nutrition, they’re packed full of these feel-good ingredients. So how can we get around the comfort food trap?
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Swap out unhealthy ingredients for healthy ingredients.
Is your comfort food something that, as a base, isn’t the end of the nutrition world, but often packs an unhealthy punch? Take pasta for example– By itself, it’s not the healthiest option, but it doesn’t have to get knocked off your list totally! While it’s often served in heavy cream sauces, you can lighten up the sauce ingredients and still get your pasta fix. Try a vegetarian sauce packed with veggies, or substitute meat for shrimp or other seafood. Try to hack your comfort food ingredients when you can, because you’ll still get that happy little fix but you’ll be able to avoid some of the less healthy ingredients!
Let’s say you love the pizza from one specific pizza place in town. Not just any pizza, but THIS pizza. It can be tough to swap out ingredients if you like it just the way it’s made with this one special recipe. You don’t have to cut it out of your diet forever, though! Order the smallest pizza (or other portion of food) that’s possible, and box half of it up immediately to go to the fridge for a meal later in the week, or to go in the freezer if you want to really space out your comfort food fixes. One or two slices of pizza isn’t going to upset your entire diet or the last 3 months of going to the gym, so have at it! Just don’t eat the whole pizza (or nibble on the leftovers for 3 consecutive days!).
Find self-care strategies that help you avoid comfort food binges.
The occasional comfort food binge might not do too much damage, but if you are going through a bout of depression, are dealing with constant stress, or other reasons that might lead you to frequently seek out comfort food, you’ve got to find something to take it’s place! Instead of eating a tub of ice cream, go for a manicure. Instead of diving into a bag of fast food, buy yourself a nice wine. Instead of caving to your comfort food cravings, find other ways to take care of yourself or make yourself feel good that don’t involve food. Taking a new exercise class, getting your car washed, going to the salon, or buying a new outfit might be ways that work for you!
What’s your biggest struggle with comfort food?
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