The Skinny on Comfort Foods

Here’s how you can enjoy your favorites, (nearly) guilt-free.

Comfort foods often get a bad rap for being completely unhealthy, but that isn’t always the case. In fact, a study from the University of California showed that indulging in comfort foods can actually help reduce stress. Research suggests that when we eat sugar and fat, our brains produce less stress-related hormones.

The key is not to have too much of a good thing. The excess calories, fat and sugar in comfort foods can be addictive, which is why it’s important to choose healthy options whenever possible. Follow these tips for lightening up your favorite dishes:

  • Look for healthy versions of your favorite recipes. You can find plenty of tried-and-true recipe adaptations online that don’t sacrifice flavor.
  • Eat only when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re comfortable. Using a smaller plate can also prevent you from piling on extra servings.
  • Enjoy comfort food as part of a meal, not as a snack.
  • Find ways to sneak healthy options in recipes. In savory foods, try using whole grains whenever possible, or adding pureed vegetables to soups and sauces. For sweet recipes, try reducing the amount of sugar and/or increasing the amount of fruit.

Close up of bowl of butternut squash soup

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