Comfort food makeover

Consider portion size, subsitions and additional ingredients to makeover traditional comfort food.

Favorite foods often considered indulgent - could they be made over to become a healthier and more regular part of our diet? There are no bad foods, just foods we eat sometimes and foods we can eat everyday. What makes an everyday food is its nutritional density— more vitamins, minerals, fiber more often!

Consider three tips suggested by Michigan State University Extension to make small changes that will last.

Portion size:

  • Fill up on carrot sticks, salads, trail mix or fruits before scoping out a serving of your favorite comfort food.
  • Use smaller plates and dishes. This will draw attention to your serving size.

Substitutions:

  • Greek yogurt for sour cream
  • Use one percent milk or skim milk in baking goods
  • Tofu for heavy cream in alfredo sauces or light cream cheese
  • Low fat (part skim milk) cheese or cottage cheese for ricotta

Add:

  • Six to eight glasses of water throughout the day. Staying hydrated will result in feeling full longer, so a large glass of water with a meal will help curb appetite.
  • Frozen or fresh vegetables (corn, broccoli, mixed) to macaroni and cheese, casseroles or as a side to meat dishes.
  • A side salad. It will boost your veggies and help you fill up.
  • Sustained moderate or vigorous physical activity for 30 minutes will enhance mood, self-discipline and burn calories.

Comfort foods often have memories and emotions attached. Finding ways to connect with those feelings or events through music, pictures or traditions will take the focus off the food which may curb overindulging.

The benefits will be smaller amounts of empty calories, lower fat, higher fiber and equal enjoyment. Over time and numerous parties and events you will be less apt to derail weight management with “holiday” or “winter” pounds.

Giving comfort food a makeover will allow you the chance to enjoy delicious food without extra calories or guilt.

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