It can be. For emotional eaters the question really is whether or not they can enjoy the foods they love and have it be healthy for them at the same time.
A TECHNICAL ANSWER WOULD BE …
That doesn’t mean you can’t eat comfort food and still be a healthy specimen. Let me explain.
When people think of comfort food, most of the time they’re imagining freshly baked breads, cookies, fried chicken with fries, sugary desserts and all the foods that you typically can’t have if you’re trying to be healthy or if you’re trying to lose weight.
But the main question I’ve been asked is whether or not comfort food is healthy. Some comfort food is healthy like Caesar salads or multigrain breads, or even your favorite rice dish. Many people find these foods comforting and so they would be considered healthy foods as long as you don’t eat them in high quantities. So if you had an overall clean diet and wanted to include some of these foods in normal to moderate amounts, then that would be considered healthy eating.
There even lots of desserts that are considered healthy thanks to the low-carb movement that we’ve been trending towards for the last two decades. You can look anywhere online or even within this blog and see recipes for everything from chocolate cookies to peanut butter treats and even cheesecakes that are not only not bad for you, but are actually encouraged as part of a healthy diet if you happen to be trying one of these new diets out.
So there are a lot of comfort foods, or foods that we really like eating, that make us feel better and that are healthy… or that we are able to eat in a way that maintains our bodily health.
I would argue that we could even eat the unhealthy comfort foods and still be healthy. Let me explain. Many people who follow a certain type of diet will implement a cheat day every so often, usually it’s about once per week. This is a way of being very healthy with your diet and exercise while at the same time enjoying these “bad” foods.
These are foods we all know too well. They are the double fudge brownies, the cupcakes with mountains of icing, the chocolate peanut butter cups that we eat while watching a Saturday night movie, and candy in general.
These foods are not healthy but they can be enjoyed and eaten regularly, whilst still keeping you healthy, if you do it right. For example some people eat a desert like the ones described above every single night.
They structure their daily eating in a way that allows that to happen. For example one way would be to skip breakfast, which is really intermittent fasting, thus leaving room for more calories later on at lunch and at dinner. Since they didn’t eat anything at breakfast they kept their insulin levels low for a much longer period of time (in a 24 hour period) since the last time they ate ( dinner the day before) and so now can afford a tiny spike of insulin after dinner – and the extra calories that go with it.
But I think what people are asking most when they ask that question is if they can really gorge on the foods that they like, because it’s no fun eating the foods really love like breads and pasta, but in such a small quantity that you may as well just stuck to a cleaner, more rigid (and boring) diet.
They want to eat the large bowl of pasta, cheeseburgers, and four slices of that freshly baked, hearty grain bread. They don’t want to eat those in tiny diet portions because again, what’s the point? Comfort food is comforting because it tastes good, you can eat a lot of it and feel good and full afterwards.
And so again the answer here is yes it can be enjoyed in this way but it depends on how you do it. For instance you can’t enjoy the very large bowl of pasta each and every night unless you’re training like an athlete.
But you can enjoy a large bowl of pasta two or three nights a week if you skip breakfast that morning, AND your lunch is a little lighter, AND on those other days you eat cleanly. Actually even on those other days you can eat the comfort foods that are healthier like the ones mentioned in the first few paragraphs of this article – the low-carb desserts, the big salads that you enjoy, etc. So eating clean doesn’t mean that you have to deprive yourself when you’re not enjoying quantity in comfort food eating.
THE FINAL WORD
The way we typically think about comfort food is generally not healthy. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy it OFTEN enough without sacrificing your health. In fact by making a few adjustments here and there to your weekly eating plan you could enjoy lots of comfort food and even be healthier for it.
Eat and enjoy.
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The Eating Love Guide has helped many people regain control of their eating patterns, resulting not only in weight loss but also better health and improved self-esteem. To read it online, click here.