How To Eat Healthy, Love Your Food, And Not Feel Guilty

fuel Mar 01, 2023
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We all want to be healthier, but we just can’t stand the idea of giving up our favorite foods to do it. The idea of facing life deprived of our most beloved comfort foods is usually enough to make us kick the can down the road on finally changing our health habits. But the idea of cutting out your comfort foods in order to be healthy doesn’t have to scare you. In fact, you can be healthy and still enjoy your comfort foods. There are two reasons for this, and we’ll talk about them both below.

The Reality of Restriction ๐Ÿคจ

Restrictions are real things. We see the importance of boundaries every day, and we’re most content and happy when we stay within those positive boundaries.

But as human’s, there’s something about being told we can’t have a certain thing that bothers us. Typically the more we’re told “no” to something, the more desperately we want that thing.

This holds true in our diets. Every diet out there tells us we can’t have a list of foods we love, and that makes following the diet a hundred times more difficult. But what if instead of having a diet that constantly told you what you couldn’t have, you lived a lifestyle that allowed you to have whatever you wanted? And in order to live that lifestyle, you just had to learn to do two things? That would be great, right? Well, as mentioned above, there are two things you can do to still enjoy comfort foods and stay healthy while doing it. The first is: change your cravings.


Does Eating Unhealthy Foods Actually Give You What You Really Want? ๐Ÿค”

When you hear that in order to still eat what you want you need to change your cravings, you might be thinking, “But that’s the problem. I crave unhealthy food.” And that’s probably true. Right now. But the truth is, you can absolutely change your cravings. It just takes making the decision to, and taking action every day to start craving more of what’s healthy, and less of what’s not.

Here’s what you have to ask yourself. Does eating unhealthy food actually give you what you really want? Think about that. Beyond tasting good in the moment, what else does unhealthy food do for you except make you feel terrible, make you gain weight, and shorten your lifespan? If unhealthy food didn’t taste good, would you still choose to eat it? ๐Ÿคฏ


Choosing To Eat Healthy Vs. Choosing Instant Gratification ๐Ÿ‘Š

If unhealthy food didn’t taste good, we’d have a list of reasons why we’d never touch it. So really, the issue is our emotions causing us to make poor decisions instead of letting what’s true inform our choices.

This is hard. Food is delicious, and can often be intensely personal. It’s almost impossible to remove emotions from the equation when we’re talking about food. And that’s okay. The next steps we need to take are to choose health over instant gratification, and then employ some sneaky tactics to ease our emotions onto the side of the facts. Our goal is to transition from unhealthy to healthy foods without our emotions noticing. That way, we can still enjoy our food throughout the entire process, and never feel like we’re missing out. We’ll only feel like we’re becoming healthier and healthier, which is an awesome feeling, trust me. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป


Thinking Long-Term ๐ŸŒณ

Keeping your long-term health in the forefront when food is concerned is challenging, but the rewards are worth it. It’s worth it to undergo a period of change and discomfort in order to enjoy years of health and vitality. If you had the choice to eat healthy, delicious food for the rest of your long life, or unhealthy food that made you feel terrible shortly after for a shorter life, which would you choose? If you choose long-term health, keep reading. ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿป‍๐Ÿซ


Keep Your Comfort Foods, Change Your Ingredients ๐Ÿช

The second secret to enjoying your comfort foods and still eating healthy is to change your ingredients. It can take a while to get used to new flavors, but after a few months, you’ll actually prefer the healthy version of your favorite foods to the unhealthy one. I’ve experienced this many times with many different foods. Below are several examples of unhealthy vs. more healthy options so you can see how easy it is to switch out the unhealthy for the healthy ingredients.


How To Handle Carbs ๐Ÿฅจ

Carbs are made of sugars and starches, both of which are essential for life. You can find them in many fruits and vegetables, breads, pasta, rice, oatmeal, crackers, cereal bars and more.

Good carbs include whole grains like brown rice and oats as well as vegetables like broccoli and spinach.

Carbs can be incredibly delicious, but like most things, there are hidden (or sometimes not so hidden) ingredients in carbs to stay away from.

A few of the main things to avoid are:

  • Refined Sugar โŒ
  • White Flour โŒ
  • MSG โŒ
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup โŒ
  • Artificial Food Coloring โŒ
  • Ingredients that are hard to pronounce โŒ

When thinking about what to buy on your next shopping trip, here are a few “instead of’s” to consider.

  • Instead of buying soda or pop, buy 100% fruit juice. Juice still has sugar in it, but it contains natural sugars instead of processed sugars. So if you just have to have a sweet drink, juice is a much better option than drinking soda every day.
  • Instead of buying normal pancake syrup, buy maple syrup. Maple syrup is much less processed than its distant syrup cousin with a ton less added sugars (it’s also more expensive, so consider buying it in bulk to cut down on the cost).
  • Instead of buying granola or snack bars, try making your own. By using honey instead of sugar, and oat flour instead of white flour, you can make a delicious snack without all the added chemicals and artificial coloring. If you don’t have time to bake your own snack bars, keep your eyes open for granola bars with fewer, more natural ingredients.
  • Instead of buying candy, buy fruit. Fruit is sweet, refreshing, and delicious. Once you get used to going to the fridge for a piece of fruit instead of to your candy stash for a candy bar, you’ll find that you don’t miss candy all that much. Your body feels much better after eating fruit, and your mind doesn’t make you feel guilty. It’s a win-win.


Protein To Have, Protein To Avoid ๐Ÿฆ–

Protein is essential to your diet to help your muscles grow and develop, to balance your blood sugar, and to help you feel energized for the whole day. Protein is found in all kinds of delicious foods. You just have to keep an eye on the ingredients.

You can receive protein from meats, eggs, dairy products, beans, and grains. To support your body and still get the protein you need, here are a few more “instead of’s” to think about.

  • Instead of buying normal deli meat, check the ingredients and look for a brand that doesn’t have added nitrites or preservatives. An alternative is to make your own chicken or ham sandwiches from organic or “Never”* chicken or ham products (*Products that never have any antibiotics or added growth hormones).
  • Instead of ordering a fast food burger on a white bun with American cheese, make your own burgers from pattys or grass fed ground beef with a seed bun and a slice of cheddar.
  • Instead of fried chicken, try grilled chicken with roasted, seasoned veggies.


Fat: Bad Fat, Good Fat ๐Ÿ•ต๐Ÿฝ‍โ™‚๏ธ

Fat gets a bad rap, but it’s actually necessary for your body to function properly. It helps give you energy and break down essential vitamins and other nutrients.

But of course, there are more healthy forms of fat than others. Fat is found in oils, nuts and seeds, dairy products, avocados, and meat.

Consuming the right kinds of fats and avoiding harmful fat is important to staying healthy. Here are more “instead of’s” to think through.

  • Instead of cooking with canola or vegetable oil, which are highly processed, use coconut or olive oil.
  • Instead of buying and cooking with margarine, buy regular butter.
  • Instead of cereal or artificially flavored yogurt for breakfast, try eggs, avocado, and full-fat dairy like cottage cheese or plain Greek yogurt flavored with vanilla and honey.
  • Instead of dipping into a bag of chips, try a handful of mixed nuts by themselves, or with some semi-sweet chocolate chips sprinkled in.


Three Of Our Favorite Comfort Foods. We Just Changed The Ingredients ๐Ÿ˜


Here are three of our favorite comfort foods with some ideas on how to modify them so they switch from the unhealthy to the healthy category.


Chocolate Chip Cookies ๐Ÿช

What makes chocolate chip cookies normally fall into the unhealthy category? There’s sugar, white flour, and milk chocolate.

To negate these ingredients that don’t support your body, we’ll just need to switch them out for more healthy options.

Instead of refined sugar, we can use maple syrup, coconut sugar, or honey.

Instead of white flour, we can use oat, almond, or cassava flour.

And instead of milk chocolate chips, we can use a sugar free semi-sweet or dark chocolate chunks.

Just like that, we have a delicious dessert that is significantly better for you than the original.


Brownies ๐Ÿซ

Let’s do the same thing with brownies. Another dessert item notorious for not being overly healthy, we’ll have to get creative to make this one an ally.

Again, white flour, sugar, canola oil, and potentially chocolate chips are the culprits here.

To counteract these, we can replace the flour, sugar, and chocolate chips like we did above. For the oil, we can switch canola oil out for coconut oil (since olive oil is sometimes too strong for desserts), and still retain delicious flavor.

Another bizarre but delicious addition to brownies is using black beans as the base. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t eaten and thoroughly enjoyed them myself, but blackbean brownies are incredibly moist and delicious, and high in protein and nutrients too. It doesn’t get much better than that!


Pizza ๐Ÿ•

I’m not sure if I’ve ever met someone who didn’t like pizza. It’s a national favorite, and comes in a plethora of delicious varieties. However, even pizza can have a few undesirable ingredients.

The old culprit white flour is back, as well as canola oil and high sodium pepperoni.

Using a baking-friendly flour like Einkorn for your pizza dough, or ordering cauliflower crust when eating out are two ways to avoid this refined, overly processed ingredient.

Using olive oil to replace canola oil is a great option for less processed, trans fat (and is also more Italian, so you can’t go wrong there).

Finding uncured pepperoni or using chicken or veggies instead can give you a more health supporting option, and will still taste delicious.

The key to remember when switching out ingredients is that you don’t have to employ an all or nothing approach. Even little changes that make your food a tad more healthy are steps in the right direction. Keep being creative, and keep thinking healthily over the long-term.

For more modified healthy food ideas and recipes, check out our healthy Comfort Food recipes here.


Get Creative. Don’t Have A Restriction Mindset, Have A Health Mindset ๐Ÿ™ƒ

Health is awesome, and 100% worth pursuing. It gives you more options in life, not less, so don’t dwell on possible ways you’re missing out. Instead, get creative about how you can eat delicious food while still doing what’s best for your future self.


Food Doesn’t Control You. You Control It ๐Ÿ˜Ž

When forming new habits, there’s a rule of thumb that’s helpful. Whenever you’re tempted to do something you shouldn’t, you don’t say “I can’t.” (Remember, we’re more attracted to what we can’t have). Instead, say, “I don’t.” This helps us remember the kind of person we are.

For example, instead of saying, “I can’t eat food with refined sugar,” say, “I don’t eat foods with refined sugar. I’m not the kind of person who destroys my health just because of a passing craving.”

This lets you know that you’re in charge. You’re not controlled by your impulses or what you crave in the moment. You’re bigger than that, and you’re thinking more long-term.


Have Fun Trying New Ingredients In The Kitchen ๐Ÿ‘ฉ‍๐Ÿณ

Using some of the foods in the lists above, have fun experimenting with recreating healthy versions of your favorite meals. You’d be amazed how quickly your pallet will adapt to the subtle changes in flavor, and how soon you’ll start craving the more healthy options. It’s an exciting journey to eating a more healthy diet long-term, and it comes with loads of perks along the way.


Have A Healthy “Friend Potluck” And See What Other People Bring ๐Ÿด

To receive some critical support, invite your friends to a healthy potluck to see what other people are doing to eat delicious food while staying healthy. Make notes and ask for recipes so you can keep on benefiting from what other people have learned over the years. There will be dishes you’ll be surprised are healthy considering how guiltily delicious they taste. But you can enjoy them guilt free because they were made with wholesome, real food ingredients that support your health goals.

After the potluck, go home and try out some of the recipes yourself, grateful to know there is such a thing as delicious, healthy food.


Get Started today

โœ๏ธ Make a list of some of your favorite comfort foods. What could be some alterations you can make to them so they support your health better?

๐Ÿ’ก Take some time to make a new comfort food healthy!


You've Got this ๐Ÿ˜…

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be restrictive. With a mindset shift and some creativity, you can eat better than you ever have, and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you’re doing what’s best for your health.

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