After all of the running around during the holiday season, nothing tastes better at the end of the day than our favorite comfort foods.
Macaroni and cheese, tomato soup, spaghetti and meatballs… these foods can make the stress of a busy day melt away. For many of us, these scrumptious dishes evoke memories of our childhood or past meals shared with loved ones during the holidays.
Though they bring us feelings of comfort and content, but it’s hard to ignore the bad rap that many comfort foods get: high in calories, high in fat, and heavy on the carbohydrates.
You may think comfort foods are out of the question if you have diabetes. But eliminating these foods is not necessarily the answer. You don’t have to give up your favorites or feel deprived. The truth is, most foods can fit as part of a balanced meal plan.
Just a few small changes to your recipe and portion size can help. Take the stress out of eating this holiday season and add the comfort back in by using the tips below.
Try adding fresh, frozen, or even canned non-starchy vegetables to your favorite recipes. These foods will contribute extra fiber, vitamins, and minerals to your dish without adding a large amount of calories, carbohydrates, or fat. That way, you still get to enjoy the taste of your favorite comfort foods while fitting in some of the healthy foods that you need every day.
Need some examples?
Adding vegetables will also bulk up your dish. If you eat the same portion size as you would without the vegetables, you’ll end up eating less calories and carbohydrates!
Health is a hot topic right now, so many chefs are out there altering comfort food recipes. The trick is to make them healthier without sacrificing flavor.
The best part is, these “made-over recipes” are not hard to find. Start by looking for recipes right here on Recipes for Healthy Living or check the recipe database on diabetes.org. You may also be interested in our featured cookbook, The Diabetes Comfort Food Cookbook by Robyn Webb. This cookbook is filled with popular comfort food recipes in a healthier form.
You can also alter your own recipes! Below are possible substitutions you can try to make your recipes healthier:
Remember that even the healthier version of comfort food needs to come in the right portion size. Controlling portions is the true key to fitting the foods you want into your meal plan.
Many comfort foods are grain-based and have a considerable amount of carbohydrates. When choosing recipes, be sure that the nutrition information is provided. You can use the total carbohydrate grams listed to help you fit it into your meal plan.
The Plate Method can be especially helpful in controlling portions of comfort food. Remember, ¼ of your plate should be filled with carbohydrate foods!
Many holiday meals tend to be carb-heavy. Think about it…you could have mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, casserole, pasta salad, fruit salad, cranberry sauce and rolls - all on the same table!
If you can’t decide between one or two carbohydrate foods on the dinner table, try taking small samples of all your favorite comfort foods. Or, choose just two or three foods that are your absolute favorites. Overall, try to keep the carbohydrate in your meals about the same as you usually do.
The holidays and comfort foods are meant to be enjoyed. So, take advantage of the tips above, as well as this month's recipes to take the stress out of eating this December!
by Robyn Webb
This month’s featured recipes will give you a taste of The Diabetes Comfort Food Cookbook by Robyn Webb. Sprinkled with helpful tips and time-saving advice, this cookbook makes classic comfort foods more diabetes-friendly and easy to prepare.
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