I would like to welcome back our resident IsoWhey chef Janine, who is looking at a problem a lot of people struggle with, especially at this time of year – Comfort Food – but are we right in our assumptions? find out here…
I know winter has arrived as the days get shorter and temperatures drop, making us want to stay inside, snuggle down, hibernate and eat. Cold weather seems to make us want to eat more!
We feel the cold and crave those foods that are going to warm us up such as carbo-rich “comfort foods” like pasta, creamy sauces, sweet puddings, custard and fried foods like chips which makes us feel satisfied with its fat and sugar. You don’t find comfort in carrot sticks or a handful of nuts!
Whilst eating comfort foods can cheer us up in the short term it can lead to overeating as blood sugar spikes and then falls, setting up a cycle that keeps the appetite in motion and can actually sabotage your weight loss efforts.
A lot of people like to blame winter for overeating and putting on weight, but my research indicated that weight gain is marginal during cold weather and tends to be linked more to the “winter blues” where there is a drop in serotonin, due to less sunshine and light which impacts the way we feel and hence the need to have a carbohydrate fix to feel better. These comfort foods release chemicals that trigger the “feel good” neurotransmitters endorphins and serotonin, lifting our mood making us more happier and relaxed. An Isowhey smoothie, would be great here as it is high in protein and ideal for mood boosting naturally containing tryptophan which increases serotonin.
So, rather than avoid comfort foods all winter there are ways to incorporate more heartier dishes into your diet which will warm and nourish, providing the vitamins and minerals we need to keep us healthy and also provide a boost to our immune system during the classic flu season.
Soups are great as they fill you up, with their high water content which can also help with fluid retention and great as part of a weight management program. Packing soups with lots of vegetables including seasonal favourites such as sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, leeks and kale provides all the antioxidants and nutrients which will keep you warm and healthy. You can make batches ahead and freeze, ready to have on hand for a healthy meal. I have come up with a great immune boosting green vegetable soup which is very low in calories. See my new video posting.
Here are some more comfort food substitutes that will have you feeling satisfied without the weight gain:
Using yoghurt, low fat ricotta cheese, miso and almond meal to thicken and make sauces instead of more traditional butter and cream
If you like a warm hearty pie then filo pastry is a good alternative to the buttery waistline thick puff pastry.
If pasta is your favourite comfort food (mac & cheese comes to mind here), use wholemeal, wholegrain options such as quinoa and barley or vegetable ribbons from zucchini which are higher in fibre, protein and vitamin & minerals.
Roasted vegetable fries using seasonal parsnips, carrots and sweet potatoes make a good alternative to having deep fried potato chips.
The slow cooker is a good option for the time poor and can produce healthy nutritional meals via the “all in one pot” combining protein and vegetables which come out tender and tasty with nutrition retained as the cooking liquid becomes the sauce.
If you are craving something sweet, stewed fruit or baked apple served with cinnamon and yoghurt can fill the spot, or you could try our new warming isowhey hot chocolate which is low in calories.
The cold weather can leave us feeling a bit low, sluggish and unmotivated. Try to keep active by keeping up your exercise routine, join a group activity to keep you going or get an exercise buddy to keep those excess calories at bay and also release endorphins that will keep your mood up, stave off the winter blues and control that urge to stay inside and comfort eat.