Still eat all the decadent comfort foods you love, just with a healthy twist!
Comfort food: We love it, we crave it, we adore it in colder months. The problem is that even though it might feel good for our soul, it’s not always necessarily good for our health. Getting a day’s worth of saturated fat or sodium in one serving can harm our bodies, especially if we have other underlying medical concerns.
The good news is you can still enjoy what you love about those heirloom recipes with your family. (Phew!) The catch is they just need a few ingredient swaps. But where do you start? With strategic swaps, think applesauce instead of oil, or skim milk instead of cream, you can eat what you love without harming your heart or adding to your waist line. If you only focus on eating well at the present, then the future will take care of itself. Comfort food doesn’t have to be bad for you! Here are some basic rules to follow.
Focus on Whole Foods
In other terms, stay away from food in a box. Your grocery list should largely consist of foods that grew in the ground or could be plucked from a tree or bush. While there’s nothing wrong with occasionally eating potato chips or bowl of ice-cream, making it a daily habit is problematic. If you’re going to buy something in a box, check the ingredient list and make sure it’s been minimally processed. A good rule of thumb is six or fewer ingredients and only ones you can pronounce.
Make It at Home
When you’re in charge of the butter and milk going into that mac and cheese, you’re much more likely to be aware of what’s going into your mouth. And in turn, can keep the fat content under control. Bonus tip: Try eating with salad plates instead of dinner plates to keep portions under control. For soups, start by making your own broth or opting for a low sodium version — especially if your loved ones are managing heart problems. Excessive sodium intake increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and other health problems.
If maintaining a healthy weight can be a struggle, try adding fiber-rich, low-calorie foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables. This will help you feel full but with less calories. Love dairy? That’s OK, just pull back on the fat content. Instead of whole milk, opt for 2 percent. Learn how to substitute good fats (mono and polyunsaturated fats) for bad fats (saturated and trans fats).
Mayo Clinic recommends trying out quick- and healthy-cooking techniques, such as baking, grilling and sautéing, and also suggests eating meals that emphasize vegetables, fruits and whole grains and limiting high-fat foods, like red meat, cheese and baked goods, and high-sodium foods, such as canned or processed foods.
Bonus Tip: Keep Good Snacks Around
You can’t reach for that bag of chips if you don’t have one lying around. Keep the fridge locked and loaded. Hard-boiled eggs, fresh fruits and veggies, hummus and fermented foods can help you stay on the smart track when it comes to eating well. Quick pantry eats might include nut butters and popcorn you can make on the stovetop.