Eating comfort food can be a great joy of fall and winter, but it can also mean developing unhealthy habits that can be difficult to shake off. It’s much better to develop healthy habits so that you can have a sustainable, healthy lifestyle year round.

Below, you’ll find 11 suggestions that can help you to eat comfort food the healthy way. Take a look and you’ll realize that you don’t have to be ‘all or nothing!’

#1 Make Smart Swaps In Your Recipes

Start by seeing if there are any smart swaps you can make in your recipes. For example, you could try using greek yogurt instead of cream and heavy sauces like mayo, and using tinned tomatoes instead of ready made sauces. There are so many swaps you can make and you should hardly notice while you’re enjoying your dish! You might even grow to prefer this way of eating. 

#2 Add More Veg

Rather than serving yourself huge portions of food that you know are too much for one sitting, add more veg. Serve yourself a portion of comfort food and have lots of vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli, and peas on your plate, too. This will bulk up your meal and make sure you’re getting your nutrients, too. A true balanced meal! 

comfort food

#3 Swap Red Meat For White

Swapping red meat for white can be a great way to enjoy comfort food – for example, turkey sausages rather than regular pork sausages. You can always use vegetarian alternatives, too – these alternatives are better for the environment in many ways. You don’t have to become fully vegetarian or vegan to make a difference. You might be surprised at how much more you like the veggie options! 

#4 Watch Your Portion Sizes 

We already touched on portion sizes a little, but it’s important to understand that most people serve themselves more than a one person portion size. Be realistic about how much is suitable for one meal. You should also listen to your body by stopping when you begin to feel full – you shouldn’t feel stuffed and sick before you stop eating! If you’re eating something out of a package, make sure you actually read it so you know what the portion size is supposed to be. 

comfort food

#5 Use An Air Fryer

Air frying is one of the healthiest ways to cook foods like chips. Even healthier than oven cooking! You can use Air fryers to make kale chips, sweet potato chips, and even just a healthier version of traditional potato chips. They’re still super tasty as you can still use oil, herbs, and other seasonings to make them delicious. 

#6 Eat Slowly 

Eating slowly is one of the best psychological things you can do to feel fuller for longer. Take your time to really chew your food – do this at least 20-30 times per bite, if you can. Put your knife and fork down in between bites too. This can be really difficult if you’ve always been a fast eater, but it’s imperative if you want to avoid guzzling your food down as quickly as possible and then not feeling satisfied. This allows you to fully focus on each meal so you don’t end up eating when you’re not hungry. 

comfort food

#7 Drink Plenty Of Water Before 

Before you eat a meal, make sure you’re hydrated. This isn’t about drinking so much water that you can pretend you’re not hungry. It’s about making sure you’re not mistaking thirst for hunger, and that you’re recognizing real hunger. Stay hydrated throughout the day and you’ll probably eat just as much as you need. Aim for 2 litres, but drink more if you’re active. 

#8 Learn How To Read Nutritional Labels 

Learning to read nutritional labels will be such a help when you’re trying to pick ingredients and even ready made items for your meals. Try to understand things like protein, carbs, and fat. Make sure you’re not having too much sugar, saturated fats, and other things that aren’t optimal for health. Just because something is labelled as ‘fat free’ for example, doesn’t make it healthy. Aim to understand marketing of foods better as well as their labels.

comfort food

#9 Focus On Balance Overall 

Make sure your goal is to focus on balance overall. Eating a big plate of spaghetti for your dinner really isn’t terrible, especially if you’ve been balanced throughout the day. However, if you’re eating huge comfort food meals all the time, you’re probably going to experience weight gain and lethargy. By focusing on living a healthier and more balanced lifestyle as a whole, you’ll feel so much better.

#10 Don’t Eat Mindlessly

 Eating mindlessly is a really easy way to consume more than you need and not even realize that you’re full. Try not to eat in front of the TV without paying attention to what you’re eating, especially foods that are snacked on, like popcorn and chips. Make eating the only thing you’re doing when you eat, and you’ll feel more satisfied. When you’re not focusing on what you eat, you’ll likely feel the need to eat more and more. 

comfort food

#11 Don’t Let Guilt Rule You

If you do eat a little more than you should from time to time, don’t let guilt rule you. Guilt and food shouldn’t be a thing, but it is because the media and other sources are designed to make us feel like we should feel bad for eating nice things (which is why there are so many diet products and fads).

All you need to do is ask yourself whether it was a good choice. If it made you feel good, don’t have any regrets and get on with your life. Eat your veg and fruit and other meals as normal. If you feel rubbish because the food was heavy and you know you overdid it, make a mental note to try not to do it again. When you eliminate guilt and shame, you’ll feel more relaxed around food and you’ll be more likely to stick to a balanced lifestyle!