Comfort food is, well… comforting. Whether you’ve had a hard day at work, trouble in your relationship or just need a lift, it is often almost instinctive to reach for a packet of crisps or a bowl of ice cream to ‘take the pain away’.
After indulging comes the guilt associated with eating it – because comfort food is almost always high in calories, salt, sugar and fat. But what if you could evade the guilt and still enjoy your comfort food?
The truth is, there is no ‘bad’ comfort food; if it gives you comfort it must be good, yes? But just because ice cream makes you feel good doesn’t mean that you should eat a litre in one sitting. If you want to enjoy your comfort food in your down moments without feeling like you are committing a crime, here are some things to do.
When portioning out your comfort food, divide your plate into two; one half will constitute the comfort item, and the other half, a healthy alternative. Let’s say you have a sweet tooth and like your ice cream; have one scoop of ice cream – and dedicate the other half to some fruit that goes well with it, such as peach slices or warm apple chunks sprinkled with cinnamon. This way, you will eat a healthier alternative to your comfort food.
If you love deep-fried fatty foods, complement them with some vegetables or salad that helps in digestion. Ask for extra salad to go with your French fries or fried chicken, or ask your butcher to provide some salad to go with the *mutura. But remember, this does not give you license to eat fries every day just because you’re eating a salad on the side. Restrict yourself to indulge, at most, twice a week, to ease your digestion and avoid fat being stored in your body. If you have a craving for pizza or samosas, look for veggie options to corner your psychological needs.
If your tooth is salty and you prefer snack items such as crisps and popcorn, avoid adding salt directly to them as this will increase your risk of hypertension. Popcorn is a healthier snack than crisps, but you should always restrict yourself to 50 gms at the most. Crisps and popcorn are very high in calories, and a large portion may provide all the energy you need for the day – without the nutrients you will need from other food groups.
If your comfort food of choice is cake or chocolate, rather than eat a slice or bar every day, limit yourself to once a week – usually a ‘sin day’ such as Sunday.
Whatever you are craving, remember this rule: Restrict or complement and all should be okay.