How to Have Your Comfort Food & Eat it, Too

When temperatures go down, cravings for comfort food go up – and it’s not healthy comfort food by any means. You’re pining for pasta, pot pies and anything with a heavy helping of carbs. In a study published in the


European Journal of Clinical Nutrition

, participants averaged 86 more calories per day in the fall than in the spring. Their percentage of fat and saturated fat was also higher in the fall (hello, cheese pizza). Come winter, activity levels dipped and body weight peaked.



You can see how things quickly spiral out of control. So how can you better manage those food cravings?

Do something you love every day – Even if you only have 10 minutes, set aside that time to draw, do a puzzle, garden, shoot hoops – whatever brings you joy and satisfaction.

Exercise in the morning – Getting in a good sweat stimulates endorphins, the hormones that induce positive feelings. If you can, work out in the early hours to set you up to make healthy choices throughout the day.

Sip on water – Sometimes you eat because you’re bored. Sip on water to keep your mouth and mind preoccupied. A straw in your water bottle may make this even easier.

Savor some fruit – Got a sweet tooth? Fill up on fiber-rich fruits that are naturally sweet. Apples, berries and bananas are all smart choices.

Modify recipes – Use healthier ingredients to make lighter versions of your favorite comfort foods. The following are four easy swaps you can make to have your (healthy) comfort food and eat it, too.

4 Healthy Comfort Food Ideas:

  1. Instead of diving into a bowl of ice cream, blend a frozen banana with a dash of water or milk until thick and creamy. Top with walnuts, cacao nibs or a drizzle of peanut butter.
  2. Cut back on carbs and increase your veggie intake with a single ingredient swap. Instead of potatoes, mash fresh or frozen cauliflower in a food processor. The texture is the same whipped fluff you love. Use garlic, nutritional yeast, pepper and chives to nail the flavor.
  3. Pasta is a nice family-style meal, which makes it easy to eat more than one serving. Sub the flour noodles for veggies you can spiralize, or turn into noodle strands. Zucchini, yellow squash, sweet potatoes and spaghetti squash are perfect for pasta cravings. They pair well with any sauce you like and cook as quickly, if not quicker, than regular pasta.
  4. Who doesn’t love hot pizza on a cold night – especially when football is on? The trick to a better pie is to use cauliflower to make your crust. You’ll cut back on the calories, carbs and guilt.

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About the author

Nicole Aucoin, MS, RD, LD/N

Founder, Healthy Steps Nutrition
Home of CrossFit HSN & HSN Mentoring

Author of Nourish & Healthy Kids Cookbook

Author of The Basics of Nutrition Coaching Course, CrossFit Preferred Nutrition Course

CrossFit Level 2 Trainer