Comfort foods can satisfy cravings and bring back fond memories, but many are loaded with unhealthy fat and calories. Seeking out the most nutritious options and making minor changes to old favorites are good ways to incorporate more healthy comfort foods into your eating plan.
Choose foods that contain more than carbohydrates.
Some comfort foods, such as stuffing, casseroles and rolls, contain little more than refined carbohydrates. Look to foods that have nutritional benefit beyond carbs. Pasta can be topped with antioxidant-rich vegetables, sweet potatoes provide fiber and vitamins, and stews with roasted meats or beans supply protein. While these options may not be the perfect health food, they do offer something that your body needs. Eat a small portion and focus on the positive components.
Add extra vegetables.
Vegetables add delicious flavor and fiber to fill you up. They are low in calories, so you can eat larger portions while consuming fewer calories. You will also benefit from the extra vitamins and minerals that these ingredients provide. Casseroles can be loaded with carrots and broccoli, pureed cauliflower can be added to mashed potatoes, and seasonal salads can have extra shredded cabbage and other greens stirred in.
Don’t overcook it.
Some nutrients in fruits and vegetables are boosted by light cooking, but cooking these foods until they are mushy can deplete much of their nutritional benefit. Cook stewed greens only until they are wilted and allow green beans to stay somewhat crisp. Roast carrots just until they are tender. Don’t precook vegetables, like broccoli, before adding them to casseroles that need to be baked. The more vibrant and crunchy the fruits and vegetables remain, the better they will hang on to some of their nutrients.
It only takes a taste.
When you are faced with your favorite comfort foods without control of the cooking, switch your focus to portion sizes. Serve yourself with a kitchen spoon, not a large serving utensil. Take only enough for three small bites. This will allow you to mindfully enjoy the first taste of the food along with two follow up bites to lengthen the experience and satisfy your cravings.