Healthy Eating Tips Holiday Tips

Don’t Despair, Prepare! Healthy Warming Comfort Foods For Winter

On a cold winter day, eating warm feel-good comfort foods can provide you with emotional nirvana. Comfort food, such as hot chocolate, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken and mashed potato, apple pie or pot pie not only tantalize the taste buds but also provide sentimental value.

Hand held whote bowl of macaroni and cheese

Typically, these comfort foods are also high in carbohydrates, fat, sugar and salt. while this may not be a problem in small doses, the holidays accompany the cold weather bringing double the weight loss trouble in a blink of an eye.

When Comfort Foods Are Not Comforting

Food taste and texture can be addictive. Salt, sugar and the combination of fat and carbs, crunch or chew can trigger out of control eating behavior. The urge to eat is not created from physical hunger. Your mind uses a “reward system” that makes you prioritize comfort and feelings of pleasure over physical feelings of fullness or satisfaction.

When this happens, out-of-control eating becomes concerning. Comfort foods may seem to create pleasure but this simple joy of eating creates food obsession, weight gain, and health issues.

Why make life stressful?

Find comfort in non-addictive types of food. Discover which foods hit the spot without taking over your mind, body, and soul. Avoid any comfort foods or beverages that have you spinning out of control.

Healthy Feel Good Comfort Foods

As the holidays approach, don’t despair, prepare! Any warm food will be comforting. Set the stage to manage what you eat. So when you fall off the weight-loss wagon you can get back on without too much struggle.

Sit by the fire, relax and enjoy these soothing seasonal winter comfort foods when it is cold outside! These favorites will warm your heart without widening your waistline.

7 Winter Warm Satisfying Comfort Foods

  1. Soup: Bone broth or chicken soup: As long as you stick to the basics, any soup will do. If you dare try my favorite soup, Tom Yum. It is made with fresh ingredients such as lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and fragrant herbs and spices. Maybe, try a variety of soup from any international cuisine, for example, French onion or Thai coconut.  Soup, as a meal or snack, is the epitome of winter warm comfort foods. As a meal, make sure your soup is hearty while supplying a minimum of 6-8 oz. of filling protein.
  2. Tea or coffee: Both these daily consumed comfort foods are warming beverages that help you get the day started. Seasonal flavors like pumpkin spice, sugar cookie, gingerbread smores, or peppermint mocha are now available to capture the holiday spirit.
  3. Roasted nuts and seeds: The key is in the prep. Put your favorite, nuts, and seeds in a ziplock bag and sprinkle with any spice you like, eat raw or roast them to add a little zing. My favorite nuts and seeds are spicy chili Pili nuts and Eden pumpkin seeds. However seasonal chestnuts taste good as well. The spice makes nuts and seeds extra nice as comfort foods. Stick to a 1 oz. portion, which is equal to approximately 3-4 TBSP. Savor each tablespoon instead of gobbling it all down in one sitting.
  4. Stews & Chili: Nothing like a warm meal on a frigid winter day. Throw the ingredients to your favorite recipe into a crockpot and your done. If you make a big batch you can use this nourishing meal as a warm and comforting healthy snack too. These types of foods can be made commercially with minimal processing. My favorite is Tandoor Chef. I like the chicken Tikki Masala, Lamb Vindaloo, and Palak Paneer.
  5. Mashed potato NOT but cauliflower mash is HOT! Steam cauliflower until its soft. Throw it in a blender add coconut milk, cream or the dairy option of your choice. Add butter, then sprinkle in garlic, pepper, and salt to taste. You can also try frozen cauliflower for the recipe or use it as a substitute for rice.
  6. Zucchini or Miracle Noodles, topped with meatballs or Chinese chicken and broccoli. The miracle noodles are made from fiber. Therefore, they are zero calories and no carbs. A perfect substitute for any noodle recipe. The package should be opened under running water and into a colander.  Simmer any sauce and add the noodles to soak up the flavor.  If you choose to make Chinese food, Coconut Aminos is a delicious switch for soy sauce.
  7. Baked cinnamon and apple/applesauce: Heat an oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice an apple into eighths, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for 15-20 minutes. If you just want to open a package of applesauce (four ounces is 60 calories and 15g of carbs), look at the ingredients. It should only contain apples, water, and vitamin C.  Stick in the microwave to warm. Then dip tender chicken strips in 2 ounces of applesauce as a tasty treat.

Comfort foods are everywhere, find comfort and emotional bliss in healthy tantalizing foods that make you feel good and also allow you to maintain control over what you eat. Can you add to this list? What are your healthy comfort foods?

3 Top Comfort Tips Contribute to Happiness and Weight Control

First, fill up on warm no or low-calorie liquids that can replace unhealthy comfort food liquids. If you keep a warm cup of tea, coffee or broth in hand, it’s hard to reach for the extras and can be helpful to stave off mindless snacking. Sipping on a pumpkin spice or peppermint tea helps keep your belly full.

While you are at it, overload your sense of satisfaction with scented candles. Use vanilla, cinnamon, melon, lavender or any feel good and refreshing scent; and yes I’m going to say it, “inhale.” You will feel and need less comfort from your comfort food.

Sound silly? It’s not.

According to Dr. Susan Schiffman, professor of medical psychology at Duke University Medical Center, ”as much as 80 percent of what we call `taste` actually is aroma“. Just as important is a quote from Dr. A. Hirsch, “Ninety percent of what is perceived as taste is actually the result of smell.”

So take advantage of smell as a fulfilling way to taste without gorging on excess food.

Thirdly, keep to an eating schedule. This will do two things.

  1. Eating on a schedule will ensure you do not hit a state of starvation because you skip a meal or two. If you are the type of person who loses control and overeats after a missed meal, this is key.
  2. If you eat on schedule and only eat at set times, you cannot unknowingly graze on the lots of little stuff that adds up to big UNCOMFORTABLE weight gain.

Healthy Winter Comfort Foods Wrap Up

Frigid temperatures and the 3 month holiday season beg you to eat warm comfort foods. This season, be happy eating foods that quench your hunger and satisfy your emotional needs.   While I have only listed 7 healthy comfort food options, there are so many more. Use the tips to boost weight control behaviors. And, during the cold winter months create healthy non-addictive comfort foods that have eye appeal and make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Care To Share Your Favorite Comfort Foods & Holiday Weight Control Tips?


About the author

Valerie Goldstein

Valerie raises the bar for health and nutrition know how with unconventional expertise and unconditional support for wellness.