Are Comfort Foods Making You Fat?

It’s ironic really that New Years and subsequent resolutions fall during the time when people struggle most with weight. Heavy winter clothes, lack of sunshine and warmth and hot comfort foods make it challenging to lose weight. Those same foods can actually bulk on a few pounds that are easily lost under layers of sweaters only to be found again when you remove layers for spring. This year, skip the extra five pounds by avoiding some of the fattiest winter comfort foods.

The average adult needs only 2000 calories or less to maintain their weight. It’s no wonder that Americans have trouble controlling their weight as many of their favorite foods supply all the calories they need in a single meal plus a few extra to store on the stomach, hips or thighs.

Creamy Soups and Chowders
There is nothing warmer than a thick bowl of soup or chowder on a snowy day, but that warm soup may be thickening your waistline despite your intentions of eating light. Chili’s clam chowder, for example, has over 900 calories. And that’s before you add the crackers.

Macaroni and Cheese
The absolute pinnacle of comfort foods, macaroni and cheese is loaded with delicious flavors, warm comfort and fattening calories. A single serving of mac & cheese can have well over 500 calories. Considering it is often a side dish as part of a full meal, those calories can add up very quickly indeed.

There is no richer winter dessert than cheesecake. Unfortunately, cheesecakes are completely loaded with fat and calories. A single slice of cheesecake can have over 1,200 calories and cream cheese muffins or other pastries aren’t much better weighing in at over 500 calories each from most bakeries and coffee shops.

Chili and Stews
Another winter classic are the hot chili and stew recipes to enjoy on a cold night. The more meats in these dishes, the higher the fat and calorie content, however. The types of meat often used in stews and chili are not the lean variety. Of course, if you make your own chili you can enjoy a low-fat variety with far fewer calories than if you head to the local eatery for a rich, fattening bowl.

What would winter be without an endless supply of cookies? Cookies fresh from the oven are a staple of the holidays and the rest of the winter months. Cookies, unfortunately, can have a huge caloric punch to your midsection. A small cookie isn’t a problem. But a handful of cookies add up quickly calorie wise. And a single, plate sized cookie from your favorite eatery can give you more than a quarter of your daily calories – and absolutely no other nutritional value.

Fried Comfort Foods
There is nothing more fun than a plate of onion rings or French fries for comfort when the cold weather has you down. Foods deep-fried in oil are outrageously bad for you, of course. Add a serving of French fries to your burger and consume an extra 600 calories. Share a fried onion and enjoy almost 1400 calories before the rest of the meal even arrives. (Enjoy the whole thing and you’re looking at 2800 calories.)

The Comfort Food Solution
When you need something warm and delicious to make your winter feel more tolerable, reaching for a carrot or stick of celery simply isn’t going to do. If you find yourself craving a winter treat, find a low fat variety or eat only a small serving pared with healthier sides. Perhaps with portion control and wise choices, you can have your comfort and enjoy it, too.

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