Comfort food. If anything throws us off the wagon it’s that, am I right? Nostalgic recipes that wrap us in a big, comforting hug with every bite. But what if I told you that was an illusion? Understanding that (and redefining “comfort”) just might set you free from bondage to food forever. Trim Healthy Mamas, you need this kind of Food Freedom in your life!
What’s Your Comfort Food Downfall?
Is it creamy mac and cheese? Maybe freshly baked bread slathered in butter. A big bowl of ice cream? Deep dish pizza with all the meats and extra cheese? Or maybe your comfort food pitfall is your Great Aunt Matilda’s Triple Decker Fudgy Cream Cheese Delight, perhaps.
Most of the time those comfort foods are packed full of fond memories and all the good feels. When we feel stressed or sad, we crave the good feels and (far too) often the foods associated with them.
ONE of mine is cheeseburgers and fries. I’m sure it’s because it was a special treat when I was little to go to McDonald’s (can you imagine?). Back then, they had those seats that were attached and swiveled so you could get in and out of them. It was always so fun to sit there and swivel the seat back and forth. Incessantly.
Drove my dad nuts.
But when I find myself wanting comfort food, burgers and fries are usually the first thing I crave.
We Wrestle With The Decision…
Have you had this conversation with yourself?
“I know I shouldn’t. I’ve been so good on my diet this week and I don’t want to blow it. I’m going to stay strong. Not gonna give in.”
“But I’m so stressed. I just want some comfort food. These past couple days have been so hard. One cheat isn’t going to hurt…”
The next thing we know we’re drowning our sorrows in a half-gallon of Moosetracks. Or a Triple Cheeseburger with Biggie Fries…AND Moosetracks.
For a moment, we feel better. Relieved even. Then we struggle with the consequences.
…And The Aftermath That Follows.
Pretty soon, those Good Feels turn on you. Physically, you don’t feel good – all that off-plan food you ate sends your blood sugar through the roof. You get a headache. Maybe feel achey. Your head fills up with fog again.
Then That Voice starts up its berating monologue. You know the one…
Why did you do that? You are so weak! You are never going to lose weight. You’ll never be able to stick to a diet. Your [mom, dad, teachers, friends…] were right, you’ll never succeed at anything. You suck.
You should just go eat more ice cream because you’re just a failure anyway…
Because you are now miserable, you think you need comfort food again.
And so the cycle repeats.
Did That Comfort Food Really Comfort You?
So let’s step back and really look at that, shall we?
For all of 5 minutes that bowl of ice cream gave you the illusion of comfort. Each creamy, sweet bite soothed your wounds a bit and made you feel better. I’ll give you that. If it didn’t, you wouldn’t reach for it.
But now it’s hours…or days…or weeks later, and you’re still beating yourself up over that cheat (or series of cheats because of that vicious cycle repeating itself). You feel awful physically. You feel awful emotionally. Your pants are tight again.
Where’s the comfort now?
Probably hanging out in your freezer and mocking you. Because it knows you’ll be back.
Redefining Comfort Food – It’s A Choice.
Every time you open your mouth to take a bit of food, you are making a choice. Many times it can almost be unconscious – like when we rush through our days and grab a bite to eat whenever we get the chance.
But, it’s still a choice. To break out of old patterns and habits something has to change. I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but it’s your choice to make. YOU have to decide to do something different.
You can either quit reaching for food for comfort or redefine what comfort food means to you.
Since I’m a lover of all things food, I prefer to redefine what comfort food is (although a reduction in reaching for food might also be a good thing 😉 ).
Mindset Change: Nourishment Is Comfort.
As with so many other things, we need to start with our mindset. As long as you believe those unhealthy “comfort foods” truly are comfort foods, you’ll have a hard time passing them up when you’re hurting and craving the Good Feels.
When you think back on how those foods make you feel physically after consuming them, and mentally/emotionally as you beat yourself up for giving in, ask yourself this question:
Is that REALLY comforting?
In the moment, yes. But the moment moves on and leaves you dealing with added pounds, out of whack blood sugar, and other effects. It doesn’t really care about that.
Here’s the deal — you have to tell your tongue to sit down and butt out. YOU are going to be making the decisions around here from now on. YOU will choose what is going into your body. And your tongue just needs to put a sock in it and be happy for food.
When we give our bodies actual nourishment – food that is healthfully prepared and full of the nutrients we need – that is comforting. It helps all the systems work well. And when everybody plays nicely together, there’s far less chaos.
Peace In The Middle Of The Storm.
Your personal food choices won’t change the behavior of other people. It won’t keep bill collectors from calling. It won’t make your kids behave or your co-workers not be jerks.
But nourished bodies and minds tend to respond to situations better (instead of reacting out of emotion).
If your brain isn’t foggy, it can remember to pay the bills on time.
If your behavior is better around your kids often they will follow your lead (especially if they act out to get a reaction from you and now you’re responding calmly instead of reacting).
And not reacting to your jerk co-workers also may be the same…some people are just kids in adult bodies, right?
Nourished bodies work better, and when your body is running well it can face the challenges of each day better too.
Let’s Swap “Comfort Food” For Nourishing Comfort.
Many recipes can easily be made more healthy by simply changing a few ingredients. For example, instead of pasta use spaghetti squash or spiralized veggie noodles. This cool spiralizer make “zoodles” (zucchini noodles) in a flash.
It’s not always enough to just eliminate certain foods, like refined sugar. Adding nutrient-dense, superfood ingredients when possible also helps nourish our bodies.
If you’re a Trim Healthy Mama follower, you have tons of THM-ified recipes to choose from when that craving for comfort food strikes. Even if you don’t follow the THM plan, the HUGE list of recipes I’ve listed below are still fantastically healthy ways to make that comfort food you crave.
You don’t HAVE to use special ingredients, but if you have any of these add them to your foods:
- MCT oil – healthy fat, helps boost metabolism
- Nutritional yeast – great source of B vitamins, plus protein, cheesy flavor
- Collagen – amino acids, protein, immune support
- Gelatin – amino acids, protein, immune support
- Whey protein – protein, supports immune system, boost metabolism
- Red palm oil – another healthy fat, rich in antioxidants
- Baobab powder – rich in vitamin C, iron, and other minerals, prebiotic fiber
Make sure to use healthy fats and oils, such as coconut oil, red palm oil, and olive oil. Grassfed butter is best, but even just replacing unhealthy margarine with regular butter is a step in the right direction.
True Comfort Foods, Inspired By THM:
I want to say thank you to my THM Blogging Buddies for sharing some of the following delicious comfort food recipes! They are an amazing group of talented ladies, be sure to stop by their blogs and say thank you for their hard work and dedication!
*Not all of the recipes below are from THM bloggers, but they all are THM friendly. Always check ingredients and compare to plan guidelines when looking for recipes.
What are you craving? Check out the list below for your favorite (healthified) comfort foods!
How to Make Holy Grail (Fathead) Pizza on a Himalayan Salt Plate (S) – because the crust is ah-MAZ-ing!
Pepperoni Pizza Pinwheels (S) – My Table of Three
Easy Peasy Pizza Bites (S) – Wonderfully Made and Dearly Loved
White Spinach Pizza (S) – Joy Filled Eats
Fresh Mozzarella & Arugula Grilled Pizza (S) – Joy Filled Eats
Chipotle Chicken Pizza Squares (S) – MamaShire
Best Keto Pizza Crust (S) – Easy Keto Dishes
Fooled Ya Pizza (S) – Trim Healthy Mama
Fast Food Favorites
Low Carb Hamburger Buns (S) – Low Carb Maven
Low Carb Cheeseburger Buns (S) – My Montana Kitchen (this is a stuffed roll, not a bun for a burger patty)
Low Carb Chicken Nuggets (S) – Joy Filled Eats
Low Carb Jicama Chili Cheese Fries (S) – My Montana Kitchen
Low Fat Baked Sweet Potato Fries (E) – The Spruce
Low Carb Cheesy Hot Dog Pie (S) – Nana’s Little Kitchen
Low Carb Breaded Chicken Tenders (S) – My Montana Kitchen
Taco Salad Crunch (E) Mrs Criddle’s Kitchen
Taco Ring (S) – My Table of Three
Taco Empanadas (S) – Joy Filled Eats
Crunchy Salty Stuff (Plus Dips)
Easy Pickled Onions (FP) I love to have these with cheese chunks, olives, pickles, and turkey pepperoni!
Easy Baked Cheese Crackers – (S) this was a review for SmarterBaking’s silicone baking mat, recipe is toward the end of the post.
Sourdough Pretzel Crackers (E) – Wonderfully Made and Dearly Loved
Baked Cheddar Parmesan Crisps (S) – Wholesome Yum
Zucchini Nacho Chips (S) – Keto Adapted
Dairy Free Instant Pot Queso (FP) – All The Nourishing Things can also be made on the stove top! Perfect with baked tortilla chips or sprouted pretzels for an E snack! My favorite are Unique Sprouted Pretzel Shells.
Fermented Tex-Mex Salsa (FP) – Traditional Cooking School
Crunchy Sprouted Chickpea Snacks – 3 Ways (E) – All The Nourishing Things a great alternative to corn nuts!
Baked Pepperoni Chips (S) – Sugar Free Like Me
Pepperoni Bites (S) – Mrs Criddle’s Kitchen
Low Carb Pretzel Dippers (S) – Wonderfully Made and Dearly Loved
Gluten Free Low Carb Mozzarella Sticks (S) – Wholesome Yum
Chunky Peanut Butter Swirl (S) – My Table of Three
Chocolate Chai (FP) – Wonderfully Made and Dearly Loved
Cookies and Cream (S) – Briana Thomas
Coconut Cream Pie Ice Cream (S) – My Table of Three
Horse Tracks Ice Cream (S) – Briana Thomas
Salted Carmel Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream (S) – All Day I Dream About Food
Sweet Cream Coffee Caramel Ice Cream (S) – Joy Filled Eats
Strawberry Ricotta Ice Cream (S) – Joy Filled Eats
Cookie Dough Ice Cream (S) – Briana Thomas
Chocolate Chai Ice Cream (S) – Wonderfully Made and Dearly Loved
Matcha “Fried” Ice Cream (S) – Wonderfully Made and Dearly Loved
Healthy French Vanilla Ice Cream (S) – Briana Thomas
Desserts and Cookies
Peanut Butter Cheesecake (S) – The Healthy Milestone
Instant Pot Mocha Cheesecake (S) – The Healthy Milestone
Sugar Free Honey Bun Cake (S) – Nana’s Little Kitchen
Chocolate Peanut Butter Roll (S) – My Table of Three
Briana’s Peanut Butter Cream Pie (S) – Briana Thomas
Chai Spice Rice Pudding (E) – Briana Thomas
Peach Cobbler with Biscuit Topping (E) – Briana Thomas
Strawberry Shortcake (S) – Briana Thomas
Peppermint Whoopie Pies (S) – MamaShire
Lemon Sticky Cake (S) – The Healthy Milestone
Chocolate Chip Cookies (S) – Wonderfully Made and Dearly Loved
Chocolate Drop Shortbread (S) – My Table of Three
Turtle Cheesecake Bars (S) – Mrs Criddle’s Kitchen
“Raw” Cookie Dough (S) – Chrissy Benoit in Love
Believe It Or Not Chocolate Chip Cookies (S) – Trim Healthy Mama
Low Carb Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Brownie Cake (S) – Briana Thomas
Fried Cream Cheese and Berry Taco (S) – Briana Thomas
Low Carb Hot Chocolate Custard (S, Deep S) – Briana Thomas
Cinnamon Apple Cheesecakes (E) – Nana’s Little Kitchen
Sugar Free Sopapilla Cheesecake (S) – Nana’s Little Kitchen
Keto Lemon Poppyseed Bundt Cake (S) – Traditional Cooking School
Toffee Almond Bites (S) – My Table of Three
Raspberry Cremes (S) – Briana Thomas
2 Minute Chocolate Truffles (S) – My Montana Kitchen
Peppermint Toffee (S) – Wonderfully Made and Dearly Loved
Coconut Peanut Butter Fat Bombs (S) – Easy Keto Dishes
Low Carb Peanut Butter Cups (S) – Briana Thomas
Trim Me Candy Cups (S) – Wonderfully Made and Dearly Loved
Peanut Butter Candy with Raspberry Curd (S) – Wonderfully Made and Dearly Loved
Low Carb Almond Joy Bon Bons (S) – My Montana Kitchen
Sugarless Candied Lemon Peels (FP) – Wonderfully Made and Dearly Loved
Orange Creamsicle Gummies (FP) – Joy Filled Eats
Meadow’s Lemon Coconut Truffles (S) – Trim Healthy Mama
Coldstone Peppermint Fudge (S) – Gwen’s Nest
Quick and Easy Toffee (S) – Margeaux Vittoria
Skinny Cashew Snickers Bars (S) – My Montana Kitchen
Shakes, Smoothies, and Frappes
Mint Matcha Shake (S or FP)
Creamy Vanilla Chai Protein Shake (S or FP)
Creamy Vanilla Custard Shake (S) – Wonderfully Made and Dearly Loved dairy free and perfect for Deep S settings!
Chocolate Dreamy (FP) – Briana Thomas
Strawberry Healthy Stealthy Shake (FP) – Joyful Jane
White Root Beer Frosty (FP) – MamaShire
Pumpkin Spice Shake (S or FP) – A Home With Purpose
Thin Mint Chocolate Chip Milkshake (S) – Gwen’s Nest
Peanut Butter Custard Shake (S) – Wonderfully Made and Dearly Loved
Cinnamon Roll Protein Smoothie (E) – My Montana Kitchen
Low Fat Banana Bread Smoothie (E) – Nana’s Little Kitchen
Low Fat Banana Split Smoothie (E) – Nana’s Little Kitchen
Low Carb Mock Rye Bread (S) single serving
Gluten Free Garlic Biscuits (S) single serve but also includes instructions for a big batch
Braided Garlic Breadsticks (S) – Joy Filled Eats
Nuke Queen’s Awesome Bread (FP) – Trim Healthy Mama
Gluten Free Biscuits (S) – MamaShire
Homemade Bread (E) – Briana Thomas
Budget Friendly Corn Bread (E) – Briana Thomas
Easy Bread Recipe (E) – Gwen’s Nest
In a Jiffy Corn Muffins (FP) – Gwen’s Nest
Gluten Free Strawberry Scones (S) – MamaShire
Easy Fluffy Sprouted Rolls (E) – Joyful Jane
Basic Low Carb Yeast Bread (FP) – Wonderfully Made and Dearly Loved
French Baguette Bread (S) – Wonderfully Made and Dearly Loved
5 Ingredient Sprouted Bagels (E) – Wonderfully Made and Dearly Loved
Casseroles, Soups, Pasta, and Miscellany
Quick and Meaty Instant Pot Chili (S, E, or FP)
Amazingly Fluffy Mashed Fauxtatoes (Can be made for S, E, or FP and dairy free)
Instant Pot Chicken Tender Stew (E) – The Healthy Milestone
Low Carb Cheesy Party “Potatoes” (S) – Briana Thomas
Cheeseburger Pie (S) – Trim Healthy Mama
Trim Train Taco Soup (FP) – Trim Healthy Mama
Healthy Mac and Cheese (S) – Briana Thomas
Easy Swedish Meatballs in Cream Sauce (S) – Easy Keto Dishes
Grandma’s Tuna Noodle Casserole (S) – Wonderfully Made and Dearly Loved
Easy Homemade Hamburger Helper (S) – MamaShire
Bacon & White Cheddar Mashed Cauliflower (S) – Wonderfully Made and Dearly Loved
Cream Cheese Cauliflower Mashers (S) – Joy Filled Eats
Jalapeno Chicken Bacon Chowder (S) – Darcie’s Dish
5 Ingredient Waffles & Pancakes (S) – Briana Thomas
French Toast in a Bowl (S) – Briana Thomas
Nutty Banana Crunch Cereal (S) – Wonderfully Made and Dearly Loved
Double Berry Crunch Cereal (S) – Wonderfully Made and Dearly Loved
Apple Oatmeal Coffee Cake (E) – The Healthy Milestone
Banana Split Oatmeal (E) – Anointed With Oil of Joy
Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns (S) – Joy Filled Eats
Country Gravy (S, E, or FP) – Nana’s Little Kitchen
Blueberry Cheesecake Bagels (S) – Easy Keto Dishes
Cinnamon Pecan Flax Muffin in a Mug (S) – A Home With Purpose
Freezer Breakfast Burritoes (S or E) – Working at Homeschool
Homemade Flavored Coffee Creamer (FP) – TJs Taste
Sugar Free Coffee House Syrups (FP) – Nana’s Little Kitchen
You Definitely Want to Pin This Ultimate List of Healthy Comfort Foods to Your Favorite Pinterest Boards: