Choose Healthy Comfort Foods to Avoid Winter Weight Gain

Keep the pounds off this winter by being more selective about the foods you eat

If you’re looking to avoid putting on pounds this winter, be selective about the comfort foods you indulge in

Turning to comfort food once the temperature drops is a sure-fire way to gain weight

The long winter days are rolling in. Time to fatten up for the winter . . . or is it really an inevitable fate? As the days grow darker and colder, the tendency to pursue comforting behaviours increases.

The list of favourite comfort foods can be extremely wide-ranging. Some choose warm, soft, easy-to-digest wholesome meals like mom or grandma used to make. Mashed potatoes, warm apple desserts, chicken pot pie, mac and cheese or other wintery casseroles are common comforts, for example.

To others, a quick boost of sugar, often from foods that combine sugar and fat such as chocolate cake or hot chocolate, bring the most comfort. Foods high in sugar, a form of simple carbohydrate, enter the bloodstream quickly and not only provide a temporary energy boost but also increase the production of the feel-good hormone serotonin.

Choose Healthier Comfort Food Options

To prevent winter weight gain there are lower-calorie and calorie-free ways to create a comforting feeling. In addition to healthier comfort foods, increasing exercise, ensuring adequate sleep, managing stress and increasing exposure to light can help.

  • Homemade hot chocolate with low-fat milk and real cocoa powder
  • Mac and cheese made of whole-grain pasta with veggies and lean meat added to make it a well-balanced meal
  • Hearty homemade soups, stews or chili emphasizing lean meat, legumes and vegetables
  • Warm fruit crisps – apple, berry or rhubarb – with oats served in a healthy portion
  • Mashed potatoes made with chicken stock or milk instead of cream or butter
  • Spaghetti or pasta dishes made with whole- grain noodles, tomato sauce and lean meat
  • Meatloaf made from ground turkey, chicken or extra lean beef

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.