10 Comfort Food Swaps for a Healthier Heart

We all feel a little out of it, moody or sad sometimes, and we crave our comfort foods to make us feel better. Maybe a tub of ice cream or a bag of chips? Stop right there. Let us introduce you to some healthier alternatives.


If you're craving... Try...
Ice cream
Regular ice cream is full of sugar and calories. It does taste good but can easily be consumed in large amounts, which can lead to weight gain.
Yogurt with berry sauce
Instead, get a cup of non-fat yogurt and top it off with puréed berries of your choice. (Read yogurt labels as sugar content varies widely.)
Chips
Chips are high in sodium and calories, which can also contain carcinogenic substances.
Popcorn
Get creative and try various spices like cinnamon or your favorite herb to add some flavor to your popcorn.
Jelly candies
Jelly candies, such as gummy bears, are just pure sugar.
Frozen grapes
Just freeze some grapes for a sweet and juicy snack.
Soft drinks
When you consume sugary drinks, your brain doesn’t register them as food. Hence, you may end up increasing your calorie intake.
Fresh fruit spritzer
Put fruit slices or chunks in a glass then fill it up with club soda.
Fancy mocha drink with whipped cream
A medium-sized mocha drink with whipped cream can have as much as 400 calories before adding the sugar or sweetener. The additives are also often unhealthy.
Cinnamon latte with non-fat milk
Order or just make a small latte with non-fat milk topped with cinnamon. This drink contains one-fourth the calories of the mocha drink.
Fried chicken
While chicken is a great choice of meat, frying is one of the unhealthiest cooking methods.
Baked or steamed chicken
As an alternative to frying, you can bake or steam your chicken. You can also use an air fryer for texture.
French fries
Just like chips, French fries contain high amounts of calories, which can lead to weight gain.
Baked potato with vegetables
You can bake them and have vegetables on the side with low-fat sour cream as a dip.
Cheeseburger
It is advisable to limit red and processed meat because they are possible carcinogens and may increase the risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Grilled chicken sandwich
Choose fish or poultry as an alternative to red and processed meats.
Commercial pizza
Most commercial pizzas use refined dough and processed meats. They are also high in calories.
Homemade pizza
Use whole-wheat flour in making the dough and fresh ingredients to top your pizza.
Bread, muffins or croissants
These contain high amounts of refined sugar, added fats and at times, shortening.
Melba toast, pita bread or whole-grain rolls
Choose lower-fat foods and whole-grain bread if possible.

You might feel emotionally better when you eat comfort foods listed on the left. But are they really making you feel better? Most of the comfort foods on the left, when consumed regularly and in high amounts, can lead to serious diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Sugary food and beverages can also cause a spike in blood sugar levels with little to no nutrients. You can start swapping these unhealthy treats out with healthier alternatives one at a time, and feel better longer.

Sources:
American Heart Association
Everyday Health
American Cancer Association
Healthline

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