I love food. I always have and I always will.
The truth is, however, some of the foods I love don’t love me back. I often crave chemical-filled, calorie-full comfort foods. Foods that taste delicious at first but later leave me feeling lethargic and defeated.
I’ve been working hard to lose the weight I gained with my most recent pregnancy. I’ve had some success, but my favorite comfort foods keep calling my name. The truth is, there are some foods I just can’t quit no matter how hard I try.
So it’s time for me to get real about the things I love to eat. It’s time for me to clean up my comfort food cravings. Clearly, I can’t do this on my own. If I could, I’d have cracked this problem years ago.
Lucky for me, we have a Des Moines Moms Blog contributor who specializes in creating healthy recipes to swap for our beloved comfort foods. Kara Swanson, a certified nutrition coach and DMMB food writer, agreed to give me some ideas to help swap out my favorite foods with healthier alternatives.
I gave Kara a list of my six biggest, baddest cravings and she provided me with some alternatives that will leave me feeling energetic and satisfied.
Note from Kara: Here’s the thing, I never want anyone to feel deprived or like they’re missing out on their favorite foods. I encourage my clients to make healthier swaps instead and to find a good balance with their nutrition. It doesn’t have to be “all or nothing”.
If you focus on eating mostly whole foods 80% of the time and then 20% of the time you eat your favorites, you’re doing great. The key is to stay in that 20% though! I LOVE finding healthier versions of favorite foods…especially sweets because I have the biggest sweet tooth ever. So rest assured, you can always trust a nutritionist who eats chocolate every day
1. Cake With Buttercream Frosting
Kara’s Healthy Swap: Totally laughing right now because I.LOVE.CAKE. Like, it’s my favorite thing of all time. But instead of landing myself in a sugar coma I love making a healthier cake like this simple and easy Double Chocolate Cake. I love making it for birthdays. I also like using Simple Mills Chocolate Cake Mix and Simple Mills Organic Vanilla Frosting.
2. Eggs, Bacon, and Pancakes
Kara’s Healthy Swap: Keep the eggs and bacon but pick bacon that is nitrate free and uncured. And I love pancakes, but I choose to make healthier ones like these Banana Walnut Pancakes that are perfect for making ahead, storing in the freezer, and popping them in the toaster.
3. French Fries
Kara’s Healthy Swap: Three words. Make your own. It’s so easy, much healthier, and still super yummy. Just slice up potatoes add a little olive oil and roast at 400 for 20 or so minutes.
4. Hot Dogs
Kara’s Healthy Swap: Have you read the ingredients in a hot dog lately? It’s basically not even food. Are you seeing a pattern here? I’m all about choosing foods with better ingredients! Not necessarily giving it up completely, just feeding our body with ingredients we can actually pronounce.
Choose an all-beef hotdog like Applegate’s Natural Uncured All Beef Hot Dog instead. They’re delicious, but they don’t have all the junk. If you want to go a step further in battling this craving (and if you’re really brave), Google “mechanically separated meat” and I bet you won’t touch a hot dog ever again.
5. Buttered Popcorn
Kara’s Healthy Swap: From one popcorn lover to the next, I get you. That buttery, salty crunch…so delicious, so savory! So, fear not, I’m not going to tell you to give it up! But instead of microwave popcorn, which is nothing but chemicals, opt to make your own. And when you’re in a pinch grab Lesser Evil Buddha Bowl Popcorn that is cooked in coconut oil. It’s perfect for the movies!
If you want to make your own at home just add coconut oil to a pan and add the kernels when the oil melts! Or we love using our hot air popper and drizzle a 50/50 combination of coconut oil and grass-fed butter on top.
6. Diet Coke
Kara’s Healthy Swap: I’m going to tackle this one head on and tell you that Diet Coke is actually making you want sweets even more. I know we grab it because it’s low calorie, but it’s full of chemicals and fake sugars. Studies actually show that people who drink it weigh more. But you’re addicted (I get it) and you crave the carbonation.
Instead of soda, try sparkling water. Before you throw your empty diet coke cans at me, you have to give it a try and allow your taste buds to change. I’ve had so many clients hate sparkling water at first, but now they.love.it. LaCroix is a favorite brand and you can even add the juice of a squeezed lime to make it taste even better.
I think some of these swaps will be easy for me while others – I’m looking at you Diet Coke – will be harder to kick. Thankfully, as Kara points out, we don’t have to eliminate our favorites completely. If you are interested in learning more about Kara’s healthy recipes check out her meal plans here.