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When the cold weather is getting us down or we just feel stressed, we often turn to comfort foods to cheer us up. Unfortunately, many comfort foods are full of sugar and fat and ruin our weight loss plans. However, they’re not all loaded with calories and some comfort foods can actually help us lose weight. Choose some of the following healthy options that are not only satisfying, but will also keep your waistline in check.
Chicken Noodle Soup
The actual act of eating soup means you eat more slowly, helping your body notice feelings of fullness sooner. Even the water in chicken noodle soup helps fill you up. Best of all, chicken is full of the protein, vitamins, and fiber you need to speed up your metabolism. In scientific studies, chicken soup was also found to contain anti-inflammatory ingredients that can help alleviate symptoms of the common cold.
Probably the best way to start the day is with a warm bowl of oatmeal. Just one cup contains four grams of fiber and six grams of protein, helping you feel fuller for longer. The fiber in the oatmeal will also improve your heart health by reducing the amount of cholesterol you absorb. Make this comfort food even healthier by adding a handful of blueberries, a few chopped walnuts, and some sliced banana.
Surprisingly low in fat and calories, a pot roast is a hearty, nutrient-rich treat. The meat helps your body work harder to break down the protein and use it for energy, meaning you will burn more calories during digestion. Try using less meat and more vegetables to support weight loss and be careful not to add too much salt.
Whether they are served as a side dish or simply eaten on their own, roasted vegetables give your body many essential nutrients. Carrots have a high water and fiber content, so they fill you up quicker than other foods, and parsnips are full of complex carbohydrates, which take longer to break down in the digestive system and make you feel full for longer.
With its combination of fiber from the tomatoes and protein from the beef and beans, chili is one of the healthiest comfort foods you can eat. Research carried out at Canada’s Laval University suggested that the chemical compound capsaicin found in chilies could even boost your body’s ability to burn fat. The studies also showed that people ate considerably less at subsequent meals.
Instead of ordering a take-out, help your weight loss plans by cooking a Chinese meal yourself. Take-outs from restaurants often use higher quantities of oil in their cooking, and you’re not in control of any of the ingredients. Quick stir-fry cooking will make sure the vegetables retain more nutrients like vitamin C and folic acid. With added ginger, garlic, and chili, you’ll get even more health benefits.
Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Turn a classic grilled cheese into a healthier lunch by using a smaller amount of reduced-fat cheddar and boost the flavor by adding more tomato, basil, and red onion. Cook a homemade tomato soup using garlic, onions, carrots, celery, and chopped tomatoes and you can pack in even more nutrients.
Replace mayonnaise and full-fat cheese with Greek yogurt and reduced-fat cheese and you can enjoy a satisfying meal that is also healthy. Potatoes are not renowned for helping weight loss, but they’re actually full of nutrients and help fill you up without adding inches to your waistline. Alternatively, try sweet potatoes. They’re rich in vitamins A and C and beta-carotene – a powerful antioxidant that slows the body’s release of glucose and insulin.
Adding more soups to your diet is a smart way to increase your intake of nutrients and cut back on the calories. Obviously, avoid creamed soups and instead, choose broth-based varieties. Minestrone is a particularly good soup for weight loss as it contains beans and vegetables, which add extra protein and fiber to your diet and keep you full for longer.
A single serving of this healthy vegetable contains more than your daily recommendation of vitamins A and K. It will also add a good amount of fiber to any meal, which research studies have shown can lower the body’s absorption of calories from carbohydrates.
Fortunately for everyone on a weight loss routine, there are still plenty of comfort foods to enjoy that also have added health benefits. Try some of these healthy comfort foods next time you need a pick-me-up and you can satisfy your body and mind without feeling guilty.