By Liz Lemke, MPH

Lifestyle Consultant at the Rochester Livea Center

When times are stressful it’s easy to turn to food to deal with our anxiety – eating our emotions can be an easy trap to fall into. Finding other ways to manage our stress is important; that could mean engaging in activities like exercise, finding a hobby to distract yourself, or turning to relaxation techniques such as meditation, aromatherapy or even a nice hot bath. What I’m hearing from my clients, though, is that sometimes they still just need some comfort food. But here’s the thing – even if our natural instinct is to turn to carbs and sweets, it doesn’t mean comfort food has to be unhealthy!

One thing I like to do is pick a classic comfort food from my childhood and find ways to transform it. The first thing I think of when I hear “comfort food” is spaghetti with meatballs. While a big plate of noodles and fatty pork meatballs packed with cheese and breadcrumbs isn’t going to help anyone lose weight, there are easy ways to make a dish like this healthy. Instead of traditional spaghetti, opt for “zoodles” (zucchini noodles) or my favorite, spiralized squash. For the meatballs, try lean ground turkey, and in place of breadcrumbs you can always crush up a healthier alternative like some of our Spicy Queso Chips!

Most of us are spending more time at home these days, so it’s a great time to get creative and try some new recipes with healthier ingredients that give you that comfort food fix. Or, if you still need something fast and simple, don’t forget about Livea meals that are already a version of classic comfort foods like our Mac & Cheese, or our Garlic Mashed Potatoes! Don’t be afraid to doctor up your Livea meals, either – is there anything better than adding some steamed broccoli and roasted bell peppers to your creamy chicken alfredo?

If you’re looking for ideas to help you get started, check out a few recipes from our website that I recommend!