Beat The Way You Stress-Eat

Five Healthy Versions of Foods You Already Love

By Brielle Sparacino

Halloween is officially over, which has signaled the beginning of the cozier (and much more hectic) holidays.

Most retail stores already have Christmas decorations adorning their windows and holiday music is making its return to mall loudspeakers everywhere.

Regardless of the excitement in the air, the holidays are a time when everyone is stressed; there’s food to prepare, gifts to buy,and plans to make.

With stress, comes stress-eating. If you’re new to the stress-eating game, just know that anyone is susceptible to it and any type of food can be consumed due to stress. Most of us just consume the unhealthy stuff because it’s there for the taking.

Hopefully this article will change the way we tend to stress-eat once and for all.

Over-eating because you’re anxiety-ridden about the holidays doesn’t have to be such a bad thing.

Remember: anything you eat is okay for you when it’s eaten in moderation. If you binge on your entire first batch of chocolate chip cookies while the second batch is baking in the oven, you might have a problem.

Luckily, I’ve got a few healthy options to share that would be more suitable as a meal but could make for a light snack depending on your portion size. Plus it won’t hurt your waistline throughout the holiday season.

My first recommendation (and one of my favorite healthy foods) is zucchini noodles sautéed in extra virgin olive oil and topped with veggies.

My favorite thing about zucchini noodles is they shrink in size when they are sautéed, so the more noodles you add to the pan, the more you can eat without feeling guilty later on.

Like a salad, you can toss just about anything you want into a bowl of “zoodles” and it will taste amazing.

Personally, I love adding broccoli, carrots, grilled chicken and a touch of grated parmesan cheese to my zucchini noodles.

The veggies and protein keep me full but the cheese on top makes it taste a bit more like an authentic pasta dish.

My second recommendation is a baked sweet potato bowl.

While I do love french fries, they contain excessive sodium and grease as a result of their deep-fried goodness.

Baking a classic, russet potato is much healthier than its french-fry counterpart. Baked sweet potatoes are that much healthier, especially when loaded with low-fat cheese, veggies and protein.

Depending on the size of the potato, this dish could either be a full-blown meal or a light snack. Either way, you’re definitely going to be hooked once you try it.

A third option to try is baked/grilled chicken topped with any sauce of your choosing and served with brown rice — and veggies, of course!

This meal is super simple to make and tastes great in any type of weather. It’s especially great to prepare in the fall/wintertime because it’s the perfect solution to a food rut.

There’s also no need to feel guilty when you’ve got proper servings of your carbs and your protein for the day!

My fourth recommendation is baked macaroni and cheese; it’s one of the ultimate comfort foods but that doesn’t mean it can’t have a healthier twist on it!

Try subbing out generic store-bought breadcrumbs for whole-wheat breadcrumbs and switch out the starchier macaroni for a gluten-free alternative.

You can even substitute American cheese for Swiss or sharp cheddar and switch out whole milk for almond or soy milk. You’ll still have a delicious end-result to munch on, it’ll just be a little bit healthier for you.

My fifth and final recommendation is an American classic: chicken noodle soup.

When prepared using all fresh ingredients instead of from a can, it has the power to knock anyone’s socks off, as well as the ability to make you feel full fast (so you won’t eat more than you can handle.)

When making this dish, be sure to use low-sodium chicken broth, gluten-free noodles and just enough salt to flavor the ingredients in the pot.

Anything more than that and you’ll defeat the purpose of a “healthy” version in the first place.

Eating healthy seems difficult, especially around the holidays but it doesn’t have to be. As long as you’re conscious of what you eat and how much you eat, you have nothing to worry about.

If you still find yourself struggling, these dishes should serve as a guide to help you make better choices. You can beat the holiday food-trap; I believe in you.

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