Comfort Food and Type 2 Diabetes
Last updated: November 2021
The leaves are changing colors, the temperatures are dropping, and the days are getting shorter. As I write this, we are in the peak of fall, heading towards winter. During this time, people begin to reach for warm, comforting foods.
Many traditional comfort foods are laden with carbohydrates and sugar. Are comfort foods suitable for people who live with type 2 diabetes? Can comfort foods be made healthier?
What does comfort food mean?
As the name suggests, comfort foods are anything that brings a sense of satisfaction and eases distress. These foods might bring up nostalgia or cause one to feel sentimental. We often associate our comfort foods with fond childhood memories. Or perhaps with a relative who used to make a certain famous dish!
What are typical comfort foods?
You might notice that you crave sweets or foods high in carbohydrates when feeling stressed or upset. Maybe you crave salty or savory snacks. Everyone has their go-to comfort food! For example, my comfort foods typically contain potatoes, like creamy potato soup or roasted potatoes. Sweet foods, especially baked goods, are also very popular. Other common comfort foods are pizza, chocolate, ice cream, mac and cheese, and potato chips.
Carbohydrates and sugar in comfort foods
As good as comfort foods make us feel, emotionally and mentally, are they okay to eat for people who have type 2 diabetes? Well, not exactly.
Foods like pizza, chips, and pasta are high in processed carbohydrates, which means they all have the potential to spike blood sugar levels. The same is true for sugary treats like chocolate, cake, cookies, and ice cream.
Adjusting comfort foods for type 2 diabetes lifestyles
Because comfort foods are often associated with family traditions and loved ones, we don't necessarily need to shun them completely. Keeping family traditions and memories alive is important, and so is experiencing joy and comfort.
Enjoy your favorites in moderation
One way to go about eating comfort foods is by enjoying them in moderation. Be aware of the amount of sugar and carbohydrates in what you're consuming, and try to eat comfort foods alongside healthy, nutrient-dense foods for balance.
Since comfort foods are typically much higher in calories, opt for smaller portion sizes than you would normally eat. If you know you're going to a holiday party that will be serving comfort foods, have a small meal or snack beforehand to ensure you don't load up high-carb and high-sugar foods.
Tweak recipes to be more diabetes-friendly
Another option is to make your comfort foods type 2 diabetes-friendly. There are many ways to try new ingredients that may be healthier than traditional ingredients.
- For diabetes-friendly pizza, try cauliflower crust, almond flour crust, or baked zucchini.
- Looking for a pasta alternative? Try lentil or chickpea pasta.
- Homemade baked goods can be made with low-glycemic flour options and alternative sugar substitutes.
The main takeaways
Comfort foods bring value to our lives by boosting mood, keeping memories alive, and reminding us of loved ones. Although these foods are typically not compatible with a type 2 diabetes diet, they can be eaten in moderation or adjusted to be a bit healthier.
What are some of your comfort foods? Have you figured out how to make some of your comfort foods diabetes-friendly?
How often do you find yourself craving sweet snacks?