Aaahhh! Comfort food! It seems to be what so many of us automatically reach for when we feel stressed, or emotional, or when we just have a need to feel good! The only issue is… comfort food is most often not healthy food. It’s usually a highly refined or sugary food, or high in (unhealthy) fat, or high in salt.
Here’s the GOOD news! Comfort food CAN be healthy! And to make it healthy is not as difficult as you might think! I will tell you why.
The whole point of comfort food is to feel good (including satisfying your brain’s reward center), and to feel more relaxed because you have just enjoyed something that tasted great (satisfying the taste buds and the brain’s pleasure center).
Your brain can be trained to be satisfied with a reward that is less damaging to your health, such as a smaller portion of sweet. Your taste buds can be retrained to go back to their ‘default mode’ by not continuously consuming super-sweet foods (which have kept your tastes attuned to a super high level of sweetness). And you can make the conscious choice to choose healthy foods that you like, instead of unhealthy foods that you are used to reaching for. Yes – it is about choice! And, yes – you CAN do it!
There are certain nutritional elements that will neutralize the negative physical effect of a moderate (THE KEY: moderate) amount of sugar. Those elements are a combination of: healthy fats, healthy protein, and good quality fiber.
Here are a couple of ideas to get you started having healthy, or at least healthier, comfort food:
- If you love to reach for chocolate – have plain dark chocolate (70% cacao at least), instead of milk chocolate or white chocolate, or chocolate loaded with junk ingredients. The dark chocolate will have far less sugar (check the nutrition table) and it also has some health benefits. Dark chocolate is excellent with some fresh fruit and/or raw nuts. Fruit has fiber, and nuts have healthy fat, protein and fiber.
- If you love to reach for sweet foods –
- have only a small portion of the sweet (yes – you CAN do it!), and add some healthy protein or high fiber foods. Raw nuts are a perfect example because they contain healthy fat, protein and some fiber, as well as other nutrients your body needs.
- OR you could skip your favorite sweet treat and add a nice piece of fruit in its place, like an apple or an orange, or kiwi. Fruit has natural sugar, along with some fiber, as well as lots of other nutrients to keep you healthy. Raw nuts make a great combo with fruit.
- If you love to reach for salty foods – have only a small portion of the salty food, and add unsalted food to it.
- For instance, if salted nuts are you go-to food: have 1/3 portion of salted nuts and 2/3 portion of raw unsalted nuts. You could also add some fresh fruit to the nuts.
- Another example – if salty chips (potato or corn chips) are you go-to food: make sure you do not have access to the whole bag!! Or develop the self –discipline of taking a few chips only, and leaving the rest for another time (yes – you CAN do it!). Then add some healthy protein and fiber foods to it – like fruit or nuts or veggies.
Here is a quick and easy recipe for
The Best Dessert EVER – Only 3 Ingredients!
This fabulously simple, 3 ingredient recipe can be your healthy go-to for dessert or for a snack. This very simple recipe can be used any time of year, through any season, even during times of celebration. In fact, this is a great lifestyle habit to form!
The 3 ingredients are:
- Fruit – preferably fresh
- Nuts – raw are best; not refined, not sugar coated
- Dark Chocolate – always dark chocolate (70% cocao or more), not milk chocolate, not white chocolate, and NOT chocolate cookies.
These ingredients are super easy to put together either on an individual plate or on a platter for entertaining. Enjoy!
Are you wanting to make some permanent healthy switches in your food, but don’t know where to start? Cathy Ormon guides people just like you to SWITCH OUT refined foods and sugar and SWITCH IN whole, nutrient dense foods to increase health and energy, and play FULL OUT in life!
Cathy Ormon has a weekly Podcast Program, The Sugar Switch® Podcast that is short, sweet and to the point about sugar, nutrition and YOUR health!