Most of us have heard of comfort food. Sticky, gooey, chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven, a plate of warm mashed potatoes and rich gravy, or a bowl full of creamy chicken and dumpling soup are just a few items that come to mind when the need for some self-pampering arises. The problem is, the food we reach for when we need comfort is usually far from comforting. Indigestion and bloating, heartburn, or pure guilt are just a few of the nagging side effects that can actually worsen our mood as a result of our epicurean indulgence.
If you’re going to sink in to comfort food and eat feelings of happiness, sadness, or just overall feel good, try these three foods that you wouldn’t think of as typical comfort foods. These actually have the ability to lift your spirits and get rid of the blahs without the bloat.
This cooling fruit not only tastes great and has a pleasurable texture, but it conjures up memories or images of picnics, family gatherings, and summer vacation, too. When you eat a slice of watermelon, listen for the crunch, feel your mouth water, and have some fun spitting the seeds onto the ground. Turn an ordinary eating experience into an adventure, and before you know it, you will feel like a kid again, tickled by a childlike zest for life.
Bonus: Watermelon is high in antioxidants and low in calories.
A friend of mine is an expert at eating sunflower seeds. She will cram a fist full of them in her mouth, and one by one spit out the shells after craftily extracting each individual seed. This is no easy task; it takes a tremendous amount of focus and concentration, two actions that help to alleviate stress and anxiety. After just 20 short minutes of rummaging through a small mouthful of sunflower seeds (which doesn’t equate to a lot of calories), I guarantee your woes and wishes will fall by the wayside.
Bonus: Sunflower seeds are high in protein and folic acid.
Lemon Water and Sea Salt
Nothing curbs a sweet tooth more than the tangy aftertaste of lemon juice with a shake of sea salt. Next time you feel like you want to reach for a Hershey bar, try this healthful drink instead. Add the squeeze of one or two lemons into a tall glass of water and salt to taste. The mouthwatering combination of sour and salty will not only awaken your palate, it will shock and realign your taste buds out of craving overly sweet, high-calorie junk food.
Bonus: Lemon juice is high in potassium. With the added sea salt, this homemade concoction is a great way to rehydrate.