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Healthy Comfort Foods

Posted on July 30, 2018 | No Comments on Healthy Comfort Foods

Comfort food is the food which brings back good memories. It’s what we think of when we hear the word “homemade”, and it’s the food that reminds us of simpler times. comfort food is typically inexpensive, uncomplicated and easy to prepare. It appeals to many because of familiarity, emotional security, or special reward. Comfort food often includes pleasant associations of childhood. Small children often seem to latch on to a specific food or drink and will repeatedly request it in high stress situations, while adults eat comfort food for a sense of continuity.

What foods can be classified as healthy comfort foods?
Most comfort foods we crave for are usually loaded with fat and calories. But there are healthier ways to continue enjoying comfort foods without jeopardizing our physical well-being. All it takes is a little creativity and an open mind.

• Try to keep your calories within limit – monitor portion sizes, don’t eat too little or too much, and don’t overindulge in just one food
• Modify your recipes and make healthy substitutions – like high fat ingredients with reduced fat options; skim milk and minimal butter or trans fat-free butter for mashed potatoes; oatmeal instead of bread crumbs in meatloaf; add grated, shredded or chopped vegetables like carrots to your favorite lasagna, meatloaf or mashed potato recipe
• Try smoothies – it will let you keep up with your four servings of fruit and veggies. Blend carrots along with juicy fruits like apples and berries
• If cookies are your comfort food, pick the healthier choices – reach for oatmeal-raisin, vanilla wafers, or ginger snaps
• When craving for salty food, you can try popcorn, pretzels dipped in mustard, or baked tortilla chips or salsa.
What foods could make people feel perky but at the same time promote health?

Proteins will perk you up. Eating a meal that is high in protein will improve brain power. Just as tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin, another amino acid called tyrosine is the precursor for norepinephrine and dopamine — brain chemicals that aid in alertness, reaction time, and mental acuity.

What foods should be avoided?
Sugary foods can give you a temporary high, but a quick crash in spirits soon follows. Some researchers believe that the link between food and mood has to do with fat and sugar than with other carbohydrates. A dose of carbohydrates leave people calmer an hour later, but it is the hefty proportion of sugar and fat that makes people go weak in the knees at the first taste of ice cream, chocolate, or cake.

Eating sugar can bring anxious people quick relief. Studies on animals suggest that high fat foods have a similar soothing effect. Sweet and creamy are the dynamic duo, fat makes food desirable and sugar makes the fat invisible. Hunger for fat and sugar triggers the brain to release endorphins (morphin-like chemicals) that send pleasure signals throughout the body, including the mouth.

Caffeine found in coffee, tea, dark chocolate, and sodas temporarily stimulate your brain and put you back in action. Up to two cups of tea or coffee a day are fine but overdependence can lead to anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, irritability, palpitations and irregular heartbeats.

In the long run, the effects of alcohol are more detrimental than helpful to those people who resort to alcoholic beverages just to get in the mood. Excessive alcohol increases anxiety, causes low blood sugar, interferes with vitamin/mineral metabolism, irritates liver and digestive tract, and the yeast in alcohol exacerbates allergies. More so, sugar, caffeine and alcohol can add to your stress burden.

Since kids and teens usually binge on comfort foods, how can it affect their general health?
Binge eating can lead to other problems, such as weight gain, unhealthy dieting, and emotional problems. Most people who binge are overweight or obese. Concerns about weight gain may lead them to go on extreme diets that they can’t stick to, so they return to their old behavior. Binge eating can leave a person feeling helpless, hopeless and depressed. These painful feelings may make binge eating worse if the person turns to food as a way of dealing with such feelings.

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