More Comforting Comfort Foods
Hear the phrase “comfort foods,” and many of us think of rich, creamy dishes, like macaroni and cheese, ice cream, and super-buttery mashed potatoes. The downside: after we indulge, we might not feel our best, says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It-Taking You from Label to Table.
For her tips on fitting comfort food into your life in a healthful way, read on.
Make junk food harder to access
“Don’t put candy and cookies in clear jars on your countertop,” suggests Taub-Dix, recommending the placement of nutritious items in the most accessible, visible places. She also suggests making a shopping list ahead of time to avoid going to the grocery store while hungry. “That way, you won’t spontaneously buy foods that could cost more in terms of your money and health.”
Don’t default to food (or alcohol) for comfort
Before eating, try another activity first—especially if you’re not hungry, Taub-Dix suggests. For instance, consider soaking in a bubble bath, reading, calling a friend, or even taking a nap. The bottom line: if you’re upset, eating most likely won’t solve your problems. Instead, pinpoint what would make you feel better, and make that your goal, she says.
Although overindulging in food (or alcohol) might make you feel better temporarily, it could make you feel worse in the long run. “While an alcoholic drink could help calm you down, it could also lead to crying or throwing up later. While indulging can be fine, overindulging could lead to discomfort instead of comfort.”
That said, it’s OK to indulge sometimes
“Allow yourself to eat frivolously occasionally,” Taub-Dix continues. “Just be sure it is something you really enjoy and doesn’t come with a side dish of guilt. When eating something delicious, nothing negative should be attached to it. However, if you’re eating three giant bags of chips because you’re upset, that will probably make you more upset.” Before digging into your indulgence of choice, leave the kitchen and try to visualize the food you want, whether it’s salty, creamy, or sweet. Narrow down your craving and then satisfy it.
Consider nutritious comfort foods
In general, carbohydrates can help us feel happier and calmer, Taub-Dix says. “Some comfort foods, like almond butter and jelly on whole-grain toast, are not necessarily unhealthy. For me, a steamy bowl of oatmeal with a little bit of cinnamon sugar and almond butter works, especially on a cold winter day.” Taub-Dix also suggests her Mini-Muffin Turkey Meatloaf with Veggies and Chocolate Zucchini Muffins. For a more nutrient-rich spin on French fries, try our crispy air-fried potatoes, below.
Crispy air-fried potatoes
Makes 3 cups
1 lb. small potatoes, halved (3 cups)
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt
- Set the air fryer to 400 degrees. While the appliance preheats, in a medium bowl, toss together the ingredients. Then, add the potatoes in one layer to the basket. Cook, opening the device to shake the basket two or three times, until golden brown and crispy, about 20 minutes total. (If you don’t have an air fryer, roast in a preheated 400 degree F oven until golden brown and crisp, about a half-hour.)