24.07.2019

How to eat comfort food without stacking on the weight

Photo: Cayla1
Words by D'Arcy McGregor

Don't push the Uber Eats trigger too quickly, get creative.

It’s probably safe to say during winter we crave warming, high-calorie foods, drink hot chocolates and convince ourselves the gym can wait until it stops raining – which it never does.

Here’s the deal: cold weather makes us want to eat more to make sure we have enough body fat to survive the weather. The reason we eat the high-calorie snacks is due to less sunlight over the months of winter – which makes us Debbie Downers – and we crave carbs to alleviate this. So, rich, heavy foods, which we consider comfort foods, are usually associated with winter, but these can be made healthy.

Start by figuring out what fruits and veggies are in season. Most of the time, fruits and veggies we have as year-long staples are actually winter-season produce. This means they’re sweeter and tastier than usual during this season. For example, broccoli, carrots, root veggies, apples and even some citrus fruits are better tasting in winter.

Take porridge for example, it’s not hard to make it delicious. Use milk to cook it – make it full cream if you want – and then add natural sweeteners. Instead of sprinkling the usual sugar over the top, load your porridge with seasonal fruits like apple, pear, blueberries and dates (I highly recommend the dates) and then pour some maple syrup over the top.

Soups are the salad of winter, and they can warm your heart up. Lentil and sweet potato soup is always a winner for me as they’re high in zinc and vitamin C respectively – which helps our immune system fight off a cold – and if you use basic flavoured ingredients as a base, you can add stuff to make it your own (I usually add a red curry paste to give it a kick).

Instead of piling the rice or pasta high on your plate every night, make a huge tray of roasted veggies with garlic, shallots, and ginger. We’ve been lied to when it comes to only roasting root veggies; all vegetables can be roasted, and they taste better too (roasted broccoli was life-changing).

A good sweet-fix doesn’t have to mean puddings either. Caramelise some banana (which helps with serotonin levels) and have a small plate of custard with them – it’s warm and really good.

That being said, you should still go out and enjoy your burgers, pastas, and puddings, but just remember comfort food can be healthy too!