How to make comfort foods and cravings healthier

Try these healthy alternatives to cravings and comfort foods

When following a healthy diet it's important to pay attention not only to what you eat for breakfast, dinner, and lunch, but also to what you have in between meals. Most people go for unhealthy alternatives to satisfy their food cravings or when they're in need of comfort foods. These are some healthier options for you to choose from!

The usual comfort foods include those that boost serotonin levels through stimulations and temporary triggers. Unluckily, the most famous and usual choices are foods that contain simple sugars, white refined carbs, and high fat levels. These, even though they trigger positive emotions due to serotonin release, aren't the healthiest options.

One of the first alternatives to consider is wholegrain varieties instead of white refined carbs. These foods are rich in fiber, which helps to prevent strokes, type 2 diabetes, bowel cancer, and heart diseases, as whole grains are useful to balance blood sugar. They're great at satiating hunger as well. Some examples of these foods are quinoa, rye, brown rice, and pasta.

You can cook risotto, stews, and casseroles with wholegrain alternatives, which will be highly satisfying, unlike other comfort foods.

Another swap to take into account is sugary snacks and carbohydrate cravings for healthy fats. These work very well when it comes to lowering sugar cravings, as they include micronutrients, fats, that quickly satisfy these temptations. There are many sources of healthy fats, most of which can be easily packed into snacks to carry with you and eat whenever you're hungry! Try nuts and seeds, but also other options like avocados.

For sweet options, there are also some changes you can make to satisfy your cravings while still maintaining a healthy diet. For instance, there are many cases where you can swap sugar for fresh fruits in a recipe. Using apples, bananas, and pears for a pudding are healthy choices that will still give you a tasty result! Other elements, like vanilla extract and cinnamon, will also help you balance the flavors.

An interesting dish that doesn't get enough credit for its simplicity, its high rewards in nutrients, and its satisfying results is soup. Most soups don't take much time to make; simply blend some ingredients and you'll have an in-between meal "snack" that's high in volume and low in calories. You can cook this cauliflower and potato skin soup in less than half an hour, or try this asparagus, lemon, and parmesan cream soup.

Soups are a fulfilling alternative to everyday snacks, which will satiate your cravings and help you maintain a healthy diet.

When it comes to carbs, there are also ways to replace them in your diet. Most of them are plant-based options with a similar consistency and not intense flavors. The additional idea behind these vegetable-based alternatives is a diet with lower calorie levels and an extra protein boost. Both of these will positively impact your gut bacteria.

Cauliflower, for example, can be used for pizza and rice, replacing regular pizza dough and rice. Ground almonds are a good replacement for flour, and lasagne sheets can be swapped for aubergine slices. When cooking pasta sauces, try to replace the meat with legumes as well. These are just some of the ideas, but you can experiment with whatever other foods you can think of!

Peter O Brien

Peter started out his professional life as a restaurant critic but ended up moving to the kitchen, realizing that his passion didn’t only lie in tasting the food, but MAKING it. Follow his delicious recipes, as well as useful articles about the many benefits healthy and delicious food will bring to your life.+ info

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