Why we crave comfort foods — and how to make them healthier

A nerve-racking day at the function. A battle with your significant early. A stretch of cold, drab weather that has you feeling the winter blues. Chances are, all of these scenarios trigger that hankering for a certain comfort food.

People tend to seek high-calorie, high-fat foods during periods of stress. thirty-eight percentage of adults report that they have overeaten or eaten unhealthy foods in the by calendar month because of stress, according to the American Psychological Association. People feeling sad besides tend to eat more of less-healthy comfort foods than when they feel glad, according to research out of Cornell University. When stress, seasonal blues or sadness has you looking for ease in the cupboard, what is it that you reach for ? Ranker recently conducted a view to determine which ease foods are the most loved by Americans, and the foods that top the list comes as no storm : chocolate, grilled cheese, pizza … Why precisely are these comfort foods then, well, comforting ? A study published in the daybook Appetite found that there is a “ social ” component to foods that provide us consolation : A food is comforting because of the memories they evoke, and the emotions and relationships that we associate with them. If your grandma served you chocolate bit cookies as a child that may be why you make a pit blockage at the bakery on your way dwelling from the position after a particularly nerve-racking day. “ Comfort foods are much the foods that our caregivers gave us when we were children. As long we have positive affiliation with the person who made that food then there ’ s a good casual that you will be drawn to that food during times of rejection or isolation, ” says Shira Gabriel, psychologist at the University of Buffalo and co-author of the discipline. “ The study helps us understand why we might be eating comfort foods even when we ’ rhenium diet or not particularly athirst. ” Another holocene study published in the International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science confirmed that certain foods take on their role as quilt food through the association with positive social encounters in our past. And while there ’ s no prerequisite that those foods be indulgent or insalubrious, the Ranker survey reveals that our go-tos tend to be. But fulfilling that comfort crave and sticking to your health goals don ’ t have to be mutually exclusive. We ’ ve rounded up some better-for-you versions of the top ten-spot ease food favorites to keep on hand for when you need a bite that will soothe the soul .

Healthier ways to satisfy comfort food cravings

My suburban Kitchen

Grilled Cheese

Topping the number of most comforting foods : Grilled cheese. Does that come as any surprise ? sometimes nothing can soothe the person quite like melted cheese sandwiched between two slices of crusty boodle. So we won ’ thymine deprive you of either. alternatively, just make the bread whole grain, cut back on the butter and stuff it with veggies like in this recipe from My Suburban Kitchen. Chocolate Covered Katie


We don ’ thyroxine know about you, but one of our darling ways to indulge a chocolate crave is in brownie shape. unfortunately, it tends to come with a goodly dose of add sugar. not therefore with this Chocolate Zucchini Brownie recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie, which clock in at equitable 83 calories each, uses shredded zucchini and folderol for moisture, and has half the sum of sugar as a typical brownie recipe. Chocolate Covered Katie

Ice cream

possibly you prefer your carbohydrate fix freeze. Skip the tub and go homemade. This banana ice rink skim recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie has barely two ingredients : bananas and your milk of choice. Use this as a base, and then add in your season of choice. Think : berries, vanilla, insignificant butter, cocoa gunpowder … the possibilities are endless. The Roasted Root


If you ca n’t resist grabbing a cut ( or two ) after a badly day, you ’ ll benefit from getting creative and making your “ pie ” at home. Keep the cheese and sauce ( after all, it wouldn ’ t be pizza without them ), but shave off some calories by using veggies as your base. Cauliflower pizza crust is having a major here and now and for effective reason : when prepared correctly it ‘s closely arsenic commodity as that dough-based slice. Another option : Portobello mushroom caps. The meaty texture holds up well slathered in sauce and tall mallow. Try this recipe from The Roasted Root, which is besides stuffed with brown rice and spinach for a well-adjusted meal that hits the flavor profile of your delivery. Laughing Spatula

French fries

Fill that craving for french fries — no drive-thru necessary. These Baked Garlic Parmesan Potato Wedges from Laughing Spatula bake up in just 25 minutes and have a fraction of the unhealthy saturated fatness that comes in the french-fry fast food diverseness. Get creative with herb and spices in place of the Parmesan tall mallow to cut bet on even more, or trade in dulcet potato for an total food boost. Nikki Dinki Cooking

Mac and Cheese

There are lots of recipes that manage to make one of the ultimate comfort foods healthy, but when those boxed cravings hit, the lone recipe you need is this Kraft-Style Mac and Cheese from Nikki Dinki Cooking. It achieves that nostalgic orange imbue with sweet potato, and manages to sneak in some cauliflower besides for extra creaminess. Don ’ thymine worry, you inactive get to keep the cheese, but with no butter or milk, you ’ re able to cut rear on extra calories and fatty. Kara Lydon

Chocolate chip cookies

Cookies are never going to be something you can munch away at without abandon. But when the crave for the quilt food does hit, it ’ s possible to whip up a batch that does less wrong than Grandma ‘s celebrated recipe, and even offers up a bit of nutritional benefit. These Dark Chocolate Almond Oatmeal Cookies with Sea Salt from Kara Lydon use fiber-rich rolled oats rather of flour, almond butter for a rise of protein and benighted chocolate chips. The Live Fit Girls

Mashed potatoes

A few ache ingredient swaps can take the darling from a diet don ’ triiodothyronine to a guilt-free side dish. alternatively of fleshy cream and butter, The Live Fit Girls use olive petroleum and broth to keep the potatoes creamy and smooth while cutting way binding on fat and calories in this recipe for Garlic Mashed Potatoes. You can besides go the cauliflower road to cut bet on even more. Picasa / Ambitious Kitchen

Fried chicken

This Crispy Garlic and Parmesan Oven-Fried Chicken from Ambitious Kitchen delivers the lapp crunchy-outside-juicy-inside jazz band that ’ s so comforting, but without the function of a deep fryer. Marinate chicken breasts in olive anoint and Greek yogurt to keep them moist, and then coat in breadcrumb and bake for a crisp eat up. SkinnyTaste

Spaghetti and meatballs

Done in-house the traditional italian dish can actually be a goodly dinner option. Opt for wheaten spaghetti, choose tend meat like SkinnyTaste does in this Skinny Italian Meatball recipe, and finish it off with a homemade sauce so that you control the add sugars. Or consider using eggplants and beans as your meatball base for a hearty, satisfying and meatless weeknight meal .


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