Even though there are hundreds of happy songs for Christmas and the New Year, there’s no doubt about it, ’tis the season to be jolly simply doesn’t work for some people. They often turn to holiday comfort foods that are both high in calories and low in nutrition. While comfort foods can play an important role in maintaining your spirits and making it through the holiday season, those same foods also add weight. Often, they aren’t really as delicious as people remember either, particularly after they’ve eaten healthy for a while.
What makes a good comfort food?
It’s often about texture or memories from the past. It’s been my experience that comfort foods are often passed through generations, sometimes changing a bit, but basically remaining the same. Everyone knows you’ve had a horrible day or ended a relationship if you’re at home with a spoon and a pint or more of Ben and Jerry’s. It’s food that your mother gave you when you were good or needed a lift or one that was on the table for special occasions. Normally, comfort food isn’t one bit healthy or low in calories…I do know one exception to that rule. I have a client who just wanted to tone, but not lose weight. Her comfort food was celery (Now you know why no weight loss was necessary.) Actually, celery and anything that crunched. She ate it when she was frustrated and loved to hear the crunch.
Pass the mashed potatoes and rich egg noodles, please.
If you’re like many people, when you get sick, chicken soup is a great boost. That’s what my mother always served to make me feel better. Mashed potatoes with thick homemade egg noodles in an equally thick chicken gravy was another favorite that would brighten my day. You don’t have to chew, they go down with little effort and taste delicious together. These two comfort foods were staples in our house.
Find a new comfort food or find a better way of cooking it.
When you’re trying to eat healthier, many of your past comfort foods won’t fit in the healthy eating program. That doesn’t mean you have to give them up forever, but just save them for the worst disasters and eat only a small serving. (No, a quart bowl is not a small serving.) Finding a new comfort food is tough, but if you can figure out what made you love the other so much, that makes the task easier. Was it the texture? Was it salty? Was it the sugary blend or simply the taste? Once you know what gives you that lift, it’s easy to find a healthy substitute. If pizza is a favorite, make it with lots of fresh veggies like spinach and cubed butternut squash and a crust that’s lower in calories. Switching out recipes or finding new comfort foods will save loads of calories.
- You can reduce the calories in mac ‘n cheese by blending butternut squash with the cheese.
- If you love your burgers and fries, switch out to a tasty fry that also is good for you. Slice a sweet potato to fry proportions and bake it. It tastes just as yummy, is lower in calories and packed with nutrition.
- Fried chicken that isn’t fried is one of my favorites. You can bake on that crispy crust and have even the most discerning fried chicken lover enjoying it.
- Nothing is better than a huge plate of lasagna that’s low in calories and healthy. Try making noodles from thinly sliced zucchini. It actually tastes the same as my favorite, but has more nutrition and fewer calories.