If you are like me you use certain foods to comfort you when you are feeling stressed. Today I want to talk about taking those comfort foods and making them a little or a lot healthier for you. We are also going to look at a few ways you can become aware of Stress Eating and what you can do about it.
1. Check in with yourself. Before you eat take a moment and think about why you are feeling the need for food. Are you stressed out, bored, lonely? It's important to know the why before you can begin to change it.
2. Remove temptation. I know all of you have heard this before, "If it is not available you can't eat it". Purging your cupboards, fridge & freezer of all those unhealthy snacks can be painful but the reward to your health is very worth it. Keep one or two to enjoy is OK as long as they are hidden and largely inaccessible (like in the cupboard above your fridge or stove). Out of sight out of mind!
3. Maintain a healthy eating schedule. Keeping your regular meal and snack times no matter how stressed or bored you are is very important. If you wait too long between meals or miss meals the next time you eat you are going to eat more to make up for the lost calories. That is not good for your mental or physical well being.
4. The other side of the coin is restriction and you do not want to restrict your calories when you are stressed because that will again lead to overeating or eating unhealthy foods. If you are on a diet switch to the food guide model which is much healthier and filling.
5. I like to cook but you may not. One thing you can do is learn to cook a few basic dishes that you can make at home. Not only are they healthier but it will give you something to concentrate on something other than what is stressing you. If you want to take it a step further you can spend an hour or so a week planning your meals and or prepping what you can ahead of time. I have trouble with the planning phase but freezing prepared meals has been a godsend
There are eight more suggestions at the Healthline link above but now it is time to convert a recipe. I love Morning Glory Muffins so I decided to use them as an example. The exchanges are not mine but thanks to the Mayo Clinic article "Recipe Makeovers" which spells it out much better than I could.
|Original ingredients||Healthier options||Comments|
|2 cups all-purpose flour||1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole-wheat flour||To increase fiber, replace half of the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat flour.|
|1 1/2 cups sugar||3/4 cup sugar||To reduce calories and sugar, cut the sugar in half.|
|2 teaspoons baking soda||2 teaspoons baking soda||Don't reduce the baking soda or the muffins may be too flat or dense.|
|1 teaspoon cinnamon||2 teaspoons cinnamon||To enhance perception of sweetness, double the cinnamon.|
|1/2 teaspoon salt||Omit||Salt isn't needed. Baking soda contains sodium and provides leavening.|
|3 large eggs||3/4 cup egg substitute||To reduce saturated fat and cholesterol, replace each egg with 1/4 cup egg substitute.|
|1 cup vegetable oil||1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce||To reduce fat, cut the oil in half and make up the difference with unsweetened applesauce to help retain moisture.|
|1/2 cup sweetened coconut||Omit||To reduce saturated fat, sugar and calories, leave out the coconut.|
|1 teaspoon vanilla extract||2 teaspoons vanilla extract||To enhance perception of sweetness, double the vanilla.|
|2 cups peeled and chopped apple||2 cups chopped apple (unpeeled)||To increase fiber, leave the skin on the apple.|
|1/2 cup raisins||1/2 cup raisins||Don't increase the amount of raisins. Raisins have a lot of calories in just a small portion.|
|1/2 cup grated carrots||3/4 cup grated carrots||To increase vitamin A and fiber, add another 1/4 cup of grated carrots. Also helps replace volume lost by omitting the coconut.|
|1/2 cup chopped pecans||2 tablespoons chopped pecans||To reduce fat and calories, cut back on the pecans.|