​Tips for Managing Comfort Food Cravings with New Year’s Resolutions

As we make our way through the holidays, many of us crave comfort foods and may overindulge in meals high in fat, sugar, and/or carbohydrates. We tend to give ourselves a pass because the New Year is right around the corner, and we’ll get back on track. The problem for some is that it’s very difficult to manage food cravings, especially if we’ve just spent the last couple of months eating anything and everything we wanted. These tips can help get us through the season:

  1. Don’t let ourselves get too hungry. When we go for long periods of time without a proper meal, we are more likely to grab quick and easy foods like chips and crackers. Waiting too long to eat can also result in low blood sugar levels; whereas, if we keep our blood sugar levels stable, we’re less likely to have food cravings.
  2. Stress can lead to strong food cravings. Chronic stress can disrupt hormones, leading to food cravings, overeating, and weight gain. Consider utilizing exercise as a stress reducer, like walking or doing yoga. If our job is stressful, we should keep healthy foods handy. A protein shake or bar, nuts, and cheese sticks are good choices. 
  3. Too little sleep can increase our desire for high calorie foods. A restless night of sleep can cause us to wake up with strong cravings for something filling. Sleep deprivation can also lead to health conditions. Aim for seven hours of sleep each night.
  4. Reduce processed foods. We should avoid processed foods that are high in sugar and carbs, such as chips, crackers, and candy. Intake of these nutrient-depleted foods causes craving for more of them. Instead, we should try to start our day with a hearty bowl of oatmeal and work in more nutrient-dense carbs throughout the day like yams, squash, and beans. We’ll feel fuller and won't have the need to reach for highly processed foods.

Healthy Comfort Foods

Make a batch of chili: add in lots of vegetables like onions, bell peppers, and cubed sweet potatoes, and top with sliced avocado. 

Make a healthy quesadilla: quesadillas are usually full of cheese, wrapped in a high-carb, high-calorie tortilla. Instead, sauté fresh spinach with mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes. Wrap up the ingredients and cheese into a low-carb tortilla, and garnish with fresh salsa and avocado. 

Make a healthier lasagna: nothing screams comfort food better than a pan of fresh lasagna. Take that family recipe, and turn it into a healthy comfort food by using carb-free noodles, like Capello’s or Palmini. The first is made from almond flour, and the other from hearts of palm. Choose a tomato sauce without sugar, and add in vegetables like mushrooms, spinach, and zucchini. Use low-fat cheese.

Food cravings are normal, and most people experience them, but left unchecked they can lead to overeating, poor nutrient intake, and weight gain. All of these have can affect our health.