Why are comfort foods bad?
Comfort foods are often associated with a nostalgic, soothing value which often leaves us emotionally satiated (aka, feeling full) once we are done having them. Studies suggest that comfort foods actually work to elevate mood levels by stimulating the brain’s reward and pleasure centres and can feel like an addiction. However, as satisfying and comforting as the foods might feel in times of crisis, most comfort foods are nutritionally not that dense, and instead, filled with calories. The problem gets worse, if you end up having too much of your comfort foods, and load up on the excess carbs and fats, or the unwanted preservatives in them, and end up in a vicious stress-binge-eating cycle.
Having said that, not all comfort food is truly bad. While they do bring in a sense of nostalgia and make you feel better, with some additions and mindful swaps, you can have your comfort foods without an ounce of guilt or worrying about overdoing your calories! Here’s presenting some of the most nutritious comfort meals to make you happy and healthy at the same time:
Oatmeal preparations: Oatmeal is a breakfast staple for many, a trusted weight loss aide, and, if you ask us, a hug-in-a-bowl kind of preparation! Not only can oatmeal be prepared in a variety of ways, it is rich in good carbs, fibre and antioxidants which do not deviate you away from nutrition values. Oats are also plenty rich in B-Vitamins, which promote brain health. Top it off with honey, nuts and seeds, fruits and you’ll have a nourishing meal worth enjoying any time of the day.
Vegetable sandwiches and pasta: Pasta and sandwiches are enjoyed by many are considered the go-to meal when sudden hunger pangs and cravings strike. While adding sauces and too much cheese can certainly make your meal a bit unhealthy, make sure to add in a lot of colourful veggies and some spices into your sandwiches, pastas to load up on the health quotient! Cheese too, if added carefully can be good for you! So, make sure you make this mindful swap to make your comfort-rich meal a lot more healthy.
Baked potatoes: Potatoes are a preferred vegetable loved by all. However, it’s also something that’s calorie-dense, and may not be actually healthy to be had in its fried, crispy form that we like. Opting for baked potato dishes, topping off with more veggies can definitely be one swap that can make you have your potato, and eat it guilt-free!
Khichdi: When we talk of comfort foods, how can we forget about our very own khichdi? The mixed rice and lentil preparation is actually quite nourishing and considered a healing meal in many parts of the country. While certain additions to the dish (such as the use of asafoetida, ghee or the humble tadka) make the meal quite nutritious, if you really count on khichdi as your comfort food, make sure you use protein-packed lentils (such as moong daal), toss in veggies (any you like) and make it a fulfilling meal by itself!
Curd rice: Just like khichdi, curd rice is a loved delicasy in many parts of India. In fact, it’s actually a super healthy preparation. Experts have long stressed that curd rice is gut-friendly food since it can restore the microbial balance in the body, aid digestion. Curd, meanwhile, is a good source of dairy-rich calcium, which strengthens your bones and has loads of antioxidants.
Foxnuts and butter-less popcorn: Popcorn (made without butter) and foxnuts, better known as makhanas can also make for healthy snacks and comfort food options. While popcorn kernels are said to be rich in antioxidants and heart-healthy polyphenols, rich in satiety and good for digestion, makhanas, too, can be made in different ways and boast of a lot of promising health benefits- from being rich in calcium, good carbs, iron, magnesium and phosphorus.
Yoghurt topped off with fruits: The best (and the healthiest) replacement to ice creams are low-fat yoghurt-based desserts and yoghurt bowls. While yoghurt is an extremely good source of good gut bacteria, calcium, benefits weight loss and immunity, adding colourful nuts and seeds to your yoghurt preparation serve in additional antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and is healthy to be had regularly.