It’s OK to Crave Comfort Food

 

“Stay away from the buffet table! Avoid second helpings! Say no to the cookies and cake!”

How often do you hear these voices? Whether they’re shouting out loud or whispering in your ear, these thoughts are often self-imposed and, while meant to keep us healthy and accountable, can do more harm than good.

Sure, over time, repeat helpings of mashed potatoes and countless slices of cream cheese frosted cake can lead to an increased waistline and decreased satisfaction with our habits (or lack thereof). While it’s important to practice discipline, it can be difficult to separate the tried-and-true tips from the myths and (sometimes ridiculous) suggestions.

What if we rather than resolving to eat better “next time” or start that new diet “on Monday,” we opened our minds to a new idea? By creating a nutrient-rich foundation that works with your lifestyle, food preferences and goals, you will establish lifelong habits that allow you to become your best self.

Curious to know more about this nutrient-rich foundation? First, let’s talk about what it’s NOT. It does NOT require you to restrict, deprive or starve yourself. It isn’t a quick fix and you’re not required to buy expensive products that cost more than your last vacation. The best part? You can start right here, right now.

These reminders are easy to implement and will provide lasting results by taking a long-term approach while focusing on mindfulness and moderation.

Understand that food is more than fuel.

Comfort food is associated with the holidays. It’s known for warming us up as we eat it…and sending us to the couch to lie down afterward. You know what else it does? Comfort food inspires fellowship. Seldom do we bake a loaf of bread and keep it to ourselves. When’s the last time you made pumpkin pie and ate every single piece? We celebrate holidays and milestones, while making memories, with food. Healthy eating isn’t just the ability to balance carbs, protein and fats. It’s also enjoying meals with friends and family.

Think long term.

Let’s flashback to Thanksgiving 2008. What did you eat? How much did you eat? Did your mother-in-law make apple pie or cherry? Chances are, you don’t remember what you ate. You’re more likely to remember who you were with or where you were.

Avoid black or white thinking.

One meal isn’t going to cause you to gain five pounds of body fat or slow your 10k pace come race day. Sure, the scale may reflect an increase in the 24-48 hours following a large meal, but this is generally due to water retention caused by excess sodium and a higher than usual carb intake. Just because you ate a donut instead of a bowl of oatmeal doesn’t mean you should give up on your goals the rest of the day. The body is extremely smart and will digest the digest the donut, preparing itself for whatever food you consume next. Eat it, Accept it and Tell yourself it was a treat (EAT).

Opt for healthy alternatives.

The thought of cornbread, stuffing, mac and cheese, ice cream and chocolate covered cherries every day might sound like a bit much. On a day to day basis, these foods aren’t necessarily the best options if your goal is to consume a nutrient-rich diet that will help you reach your fitness goals. Unless, of course, you introduce healthier options. Trying to satisfy that sweet tooth? Rather than eat an entire pint of ice cream, blend a frozen banana with a scoop of protein powder. Add a little bit of almond milk so it becomes a consistency that’s comparable to ice cream. It’s a high-protein option that tastes great too. Another protein-rich comfort food option is Muscle MacⓇ. With an entire 20g of protein and no synthetic dyes or colors, you’re getting a meal that’s good for you and tastes like the real thing.

Relax. 

Comfort food is exactly that–comforting. Not every bite of every meal, every single day has to be logged in your nutrition app. It’s ok to eat something just for the sake of eating it. Once we begin to accept that as truth while remaining mindful, our choices will change. Once our choices change, our habits will change. And you’ll be much happier living a life of moderation and balance, digging in to the occasional bowl of mac and cheese too.