How to … satisfy food cravings with healthy alternatives

Ten healthy alternatives to your winter cravings that both satisfy and nourish.

How to … satisfy food cravings with healthy alternatives

As it gets colder outside, our bodies begin telling us to rug up, nap and snack. If cravings for comfort food hit you extra hard in the winter months, you’re not alone. Why not put down that slice of pizza and bag of chips in favour of WebMD's 10 healthy comfort food alternatives.

So, you want something hot, sweet and satisfying? Porridge with brown sugar and berries is a fast and easy meal that is both comforting and delicious, and offers the benefits of slow-release energy. If you’re looking for an extra treat, try our No-Fuss Healthy Chocolate Porridge.

Popcorn is made from corn, which is healthy, provided you add just a little butter and salt. It’s a great way to sate winter cravings.

Wholemeal pasta is healthy, delicious and easy on the budget. Pack the sauce full of vegetables and watch the amount of oil and salt you use to create a healthy but filling meal to share with friends.

Chicken Soup
Along with being a tasty winter staple, chicken soup has multiple health benefits that can help stave off a winter cold.

Making a pan of enchiladas with protein-packed black beans, vegetables and low-fat cheese may be the perfect guilt-free winter meal.

Dark chocolate
When it comes to choosing your chocolate, the darker the healthier. It’s packed with antioxidants, can lower blood pressure and might even reduce your risk of heart disease. This is one cold weather comfort you won’t feel bad about snuggling up with, just watch your portion control.

Vegetable Lasagne
A delicious winter classic, veggie lasagna is a healthier alternative to meat lasagne, and many people prefer it. Our No-bake Vegetarian Lasagne takes only 25 minutes to make.

Baked Sweet Potato and Pumpkin
Just chop up the vegetables and toss them in the oven with a touch of oil. Roast vegetables are comforting, healthy and can be flavoured to taste, but don’t go too heavy on the salt.

Pita Pizza
A quick and delicious pizza made with pita bread is both hot and satisfying. We recommend you load it up with healthy ingredients like spinach, capsicum, onion and tomato, but go easy on the cheese to make it as healthy possible.

Poached Pears
Affordable and easy to make, poached pears are the perfect winter dessert. Add frozen berries, orange peel and a cinnamon stick to enhance flavour and add a splash of colour.

Heart Smart Slurpy Noodles
This pumpkin and noodle soup from the Heart Foundation is good for both your tastebuds and your heart. It’s the perfect guilt-free winter meal.

Do you crave heavier foods in the colder months? Does it mean you usually put on a few extra kilos?



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    26th May 2019
    OK recipes but please note that cravings are a sign of Hidden Hunger.

    This is your body's response to a lack of micronutrients working through our instinctive taste drives. We have a few of these: A drive for sweetness, one for fat, another for what are called Maillard products which are cooked, toasted, roasted notes (coffee, chocolate, baked and fried foods, beer etc) and the last one for micronutrients.

    Micronutrients are a vast collection of food components and include antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, anti-allergens, anti-rogue cell (anti-proliferatives, pro-apopotics, anti-carcinogens, anti-mutagens), immune boosters, adaptogens, organic acids, organ and tissue protectants (brain, heart, liver, kidney, pancreas, lungs, blood vessels, etc), live enzymes and enzyme regulators, good sugars and bioavailable minerals.

    But let me explain how it works:

    We are driven by these taste drives and if that's not enough, so is our microbiome which is being called our 2nd brain because the bugs in our gut make neurotransmitters that stimulate our brain and control what we eat.

    It works like this.

    If we are not getting enough micronutrients our brain and bugs get us to go eat more to get them. The problem today is that our foods are bred for shelf life and distribution, not for our ideal nutrition. Most of it is barely worth eating.

    Porridge is simple starch and is quickly turned to sugars.
    Pasta is more carbs that we probably don't need unless we are athletes.
    Sweet potatoes are no longer low GI as the milky latex and other fibre components they had have been bred out
    Pumpkin is typically low fibre which carried most of the antioxidants on it.
    And pears are picked in season and cold-stored for a year with quantities released each month to the stores. That's 'fresh' food that might be celebrating a year off the tree when we buy some.

    In the past, just looking for sweet foods would have meant a good dose of micronutrients and we'd also get some exercise in the process.

    In addition to this, if we followed our taste drive for fat or Maillards then we got the right fatty acids (which are an important component in our physiology), fat soluble antioxidants, carrier and otherwise functional molecules, easily metabolized energy molecules and more exercise.

    But to cut a long story short, if we get enough micronutrients, we stop our cravings for sweet or fat foods and so we do not over-eat on modern rubbish foods which are deficient in micronutrients. Most people find that they only need 2 meals a day instead of 3 plus snacks and grazing. Two meals is achievable IF we get what we need from organic, wild and near wild foods.

    So you won't NEED these recipes but you might still like to make some as your main dishes and add in ingredients you might forage from your garden or local parks and Council plantings or varieties of heirloom produce you grow for yourself.
    26th May 2019
    Sorry Vic science does not support your theory that cravings indicate an underlying nutritional difficiency.

    Current research has shown that simply smelling the desired food for 2 minutes has the same effect on the body as actually eating the food.

    Perhaps you could explain your theory in the context of why people seldom if ever get cravings for broccoli or spinach, yet cakes, biscuits. Ice cream, pasta, pizza , chocolate etc are high on the list. There is no nutritional value in these (except the chocolate if it is above 80% cocoa) yet that is what people want.
    26th May 2019
    VicCherikoff, two big meals per day is not a good idea actually. You are better off with four small ones. Not those huge restaurant meals you see but four healthy nutrient packed meals. A meal could consist of yoghurt and fruit for example.
    Oats is very good as is avocados and varied colourful vegetables.
    Your idea of micronutrients is correct to a certain extent. Dismissing all food as having lost their nutrients is a tad exaggerated. We can still get most of our nutrients from our foods but a little help from extra vitamins and minerals is a good idea.
    There are actually some clever ones. This is based on individual needs.
    26th May 2019
    For some people two big meals a day is fine but for others spreading it out over the day is better. Whatever works best for yourself as long as it is real food and not packaged junk.
    26th May 2019
    All of those suggestions would increase my weight if i were to eat any of them, not sure where this advice comes from but it's not exactly healthy (especially the sugar on porridge & pastas)! What about good ol fashioned eggs for breaky & a vegies & meat?
    26th May 2019
    True Cheezil61! Oats is great but minus the sugar. Eggs are super. Our meat and veggies dinner meal is also important. Fruit and veggies are the way to go for sure.
    26th May 2019
    I disagree about eggs, they are not healthy at all.
    26th May 2019
    musicveg, many people would beg to differ re the eggs. They certainly are good for you. Not heaps but one or two a week are an important part of your diet.
    They are also tolerated by many people who have heaps of issues like gluten and dairy free.
    26th May 2019
    Strange article, I agree with VicCherikoff cravings is because your body is seeking nutrients and/or water. Often we crave and it may only be you are lacking in water intake too. I find I don't crave for anything, in fact I cannot stand sweet things like cakes, biscuits and chocolates. If you eat a wholefood diet and keep away from packaged "food" you have more of a chance to kerb your cravings, packaged food is designed to be moorish so they sell more.
    27th May 2019
    Here's the science from a massive study on the Cochrane data against synthetic vitamins:

    There are countless papers on the declining nutritional value of our agricultured foods but the most convincing evidence is memory. I recall smaller fruits, less sweet and fibrous. Now they are gargantuan orbs of sweet, juicy, low fibre nothing. Nutritionally, antioxidants are bound to fibre so both have been bred out.

    Minerals are no compromised too as soil micro-organisms which are critical for mineral bioavailability are killed with the use of the registered antimicrobial, glyphosate (Round-Up).

    I could go on for a very long time here but if you have a open mind, check out my life-long work on the nutritional value of Australian wild foods as conclusive evidence of just how much our food has changed. See this index of articles:

    And lastly, by simply eating the right foods to get micronutrients (these are wild and near wild foods) we see the proof: We lose carbohydrate cravings. Sweet foods are too sweet. We begin to drift down to our ideal weight (no will power or hours exercising needed). We get more energy, both mental and physical. Our gut microbiome gets healthier too which then helps us eat better through neurotransmitters they send to our brain. And on and on.

    Tags: how, to, health, food,

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