Early fall can still bring warm days. Soon, however, temperatures are going to start dropping and days will get shorter. For many people, comfort food is a key part of getting through fall and winter. For the sake of your health, however, you should aim to do it without the calories. Here are four tips to help.
Cook at home as much as you can
Cooking at home isn’t just about saving money, although that can be a useful bonus. It’s about having total control over both the ingredients and the ratios in which they are used. If you’re a confident cook, you can adjust traditional recipes yourself to make them healthier. If you’re not, you can find plenty of healthy “comfort eating” options online. For example, try this recipe for low carb buffalo chicken dip.
When you do buy prepared food (of any kind), make sure you do your research thoroughly. Ready meals should have lists of ingredients (although this doesn’t guarantee their quality). With take-outs and eating out, you may need to ask.
Use lots of plant-based protein
If you’ve given up meat completely, you must ensure you still get sufficient protein. One of the benefits of protein is that it helps to fill you up. This can help to reduce the quantity of food you feel you need to eat and hence your calorie intake.
If you haven’t given up meat, then try mixing up meat protein and plant-based protein. You can do this in the same dish or alternate between cooking with meat protein and cooking with plant-based protein.
For example, you could make a shepherd’s pie with a combination of lamb mince and lentils or you could make a traditional shepherd’s pie for one meal and a meat-free one for another. This can be a great way of continuing to enjoy traditional cold-weather comfort foods while reducing the calories. As a bonus, it can also help to reduce your grocery bills.
Eat the right carbohydrates
Even if you’re following a low-carb diet, like Keto, you will still need some carbs. In general, and particularly in the colder months, the best carbs are complex carbs. These provide slow-release energy and heat and so are an important source of fuel in cold weather.
In general, foods rich in complex carbs are also rich in fiber (and vice versa). For example, rice, grains, and potatoes are all sources of both complex carbs and fiber. The less processed they are, the more fiber they provide. So, for example, opt for brown rice, wholegrain bread, and potatoes with their skins on.
Like protein, fiber helps you to feel full. It, therefore, helps to stop you from overeating and hence promotes weight management. Simple carbohydrates (i.e. sugars) can give you an energy rush. This usually wears off very quickly but the calories stay. They are therefore best kept for occasional treats.
Stock up on healthy treats
No matter how disciplined you are normally, the cold months are the months when most people do want the occasional sweet treat. Instead of trying to fight this, just roll with it. Make yourself some treats and indulge occasionally. It might not be the very healthiest option. It will, however, almost certainly be much healthier than grabbing shop-bought treats.