When we think of comfort food – we often think of junk food. Mac and cheese, burgers, bacon, ice cream. This is likely due to the fact that whenever we need comforting, we often crave carbs and sugar as they can increase our serotonin production, making us feel temporarily better. However, if you are trying to build a healthier relationship with food, or simply follow a healthy lifestyle, then you must find a way to make your comfort dishes a little bit healthier!
With that in mind, here are some top tips to get you started.
- Use less oil. One way in which you can make your favorite dishes a little healthier is by reducing the amount of oil you use in the cooking process. This is due to the fact that overusing oil can add a great deal of calories to your meal without you even realizing it. It’s important to remember that dishes can still be tasty without being dipped in oil. For example, you could follow this delicious imam bayildi recipe, which is a lighter take on Turkish Eggplant Casserole.
- Seek out a veggie alternative. Another way in which you can make your favorite comfort dishes a little healthier is by searching for a vegetarian alternative. In recent years, ‘fake meat’ products such as Quorn have come a long way and are now virtually indistinguishable from their counterparts – but they’re much healthier!
- Sneak some vegetables into your favorite dishes. Another way you can start getting the whole family (including kids) to eat healthier is by sneaking vegetables into your comfort food meals. For example, you could add diced (or blended) cauliflower to your cheese sauce when making mac n cheese. This is an excellent trick for fussy eaters, who would quickly turn their nose up if vegetables were served as a side dish.
- Try healthier cooking methods. Sometimes the issue is not the food itself, but rather the way in which it is cooked. As a result, you can make comfort food much healthier by swapping out your cooking method. For example, instead of frying things, you could grill or steam them.
- Use different cooking gadgets. Healthy cooking gadgets are another great way to start following a healthier lifestyle in the kitchen. This is due to the fact that they encourage you to make things from scratch, so you have full control over the ingredients they use. They can also be used to counter negative cravings. For example, if you find yourself reaching for another can of soda, you could instead use a blender/juicer to make a delicious smoothie.
- Swap sugar for sweetener. If you are treating your sweet tooth to a delicious dessert, you can make it much healthier by swapping out some of the sugar for sweetener instead. You could also use desserts to disguise fruit and veggies. For example, you could make brownies using avocados, which allows you to substitute butter for a healthier alternative due to their high-fat content. Even better, you cannot taste the difference.
- Switch to wholemeal ingredients. If you’re craving a burger or carb-heavy dish, be sure to check whether or not you can buy a wholemeal or whole wheat version of your carb of choice, be that bread, wraps, or pasta. This is due to the fact that these dishes often include higher percentages of vitamins, minerals, and fiber – making them an excellent addition to any dish.
- Try to stop regulating emotions with food. While we’re all entitled to comfort food here and there, it’s also crucial that you try to ensure you don’t regulate your emotions with food. After all, this encourages us to step into the kitchen instead of addressing our problems, which can often make things worse in the long run. As a result, you should try to find healthy alternatives to your cravings, and not just within your recipes or choice of snack. For example, you may be able to get the serotonin boost you need through exercise or spending time outdoors. This is also a great way to make achieving your weight-loss goals fun, especially if you can find a hobby or activity you truly love to participate in. As always, if you are having a bad time (and find yourself craving comfort food more and more), it’s important that you reach out and seek help when you need it – as there is always someone around you ready and willing to listen or offer advice and support.