6 Healthy Hacks for Comfort Foods

Maintain your diet without completely sacrificing your favorite foods.

Just because you're on a diet doesn't mean you have to give up everything that you love to eat. It's very easy to make simple swaps to classic comfort food meals to make them healthier and more nutritious. With just a little recipe tweaking you can still be able to enjoy more decadent meals without causing additional harm to your waistline. However, as with anything, it is important to pay attention to serving sizes: even if you make your mac and cheese slightly lower in fat and calories doesn't mean you can eat the whole pan without consequences. Check out some of these quick and easy swaps to make your meals healthier while still keeping them delicious. 


If you're craving a good ol' fashion meatloaf with some mashed potatoes for dinner, consider swapping out the type of meat you use. Ground turkey is lower in calories and fat in comparison to classic beef or pork mixtures. This simple swap can save you a lot of calories and reduce your weekly intake of red meat. If you're feeling really fancy, you can even swap out the potatoes with a healthier side like roasted carrots or cauliflower. 

More: Turkey Meatloaf

Bread Crumbs 

A lot of comfort foods come with delicious embellishments like bread crumbs. Cut carbs and save calories by grinding up oats to use instead. You'll still get the texture of bread crumbs without actually having them in your dish. If you're not a fan of oats, give sprouted grain bread crumbs a try.  

More: 11 Recipe Substitutions for Healthy Eating


Butter is used in a lot of baking recipes and can add a lot of fat and calories to an already fattening and caloric dish. Try using blended avocado as an easy butter swap in brownies. The consistency and texture will remain the same but there will be a healthy fat in your dessert too. 

More: Avocado Brownies

Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is delicious, but you usually can only eat a small serving without going over your calorie budget for the day. Bring back the mac in your life by adding butternut squash to the recipe. While you won't completely get rid of the cheese, swapping out most of it for this creamy gourd will aid in making it healthier -- but just as delicious!  

More: Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese


Ordering pizza on a Friday night is tempting, but it can also wreck your healthy eating plans. Keep your love of pizza in check (while still being able to indulge) by using cauliflower for the crust instead. This cuts out all carbs and leaves you with an extra serving of vegetables. Just don't go overboard on the toppings! 

More: 6 Delicious and Healthy Veggie Pizza Crusts

Grilled Cheese

There's nothing better than grilled cheese on a lazy night. Swap our your carb-heavy bread with sweet potatoes instead to enjoy your sandwich guilt-free.

More: Sweet Potato Toast

Q: I end up overeating because it makes me feel better and I never really get full. I'd like to lose weight but this makes it hard. Any suggestions?

A: Being persistently hungry can cause big trouble. So can overeating for comfort/pleasure. These two behaviors, say researchers from Baylor University's Children's Nutrition Research Center, are controlled deep within your brain by serotonin-producing neurons, but operate separately from each other — one in the hypothalamus, the other in the midbrain. They both can, however, end up fueling poor nutritional choices and obesity.

Eating for Hunger

When hunger is your motive for eating, the question is: "Does your body know when you've had enough?" Well, if you are overweight, obese or have diabetes you may develop leptin resistance and your "I am full" hormone, leptin, can't do its job. The hormone's signal to your hypothalamus is dampened, and you keep eating.

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