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Even when we’re trying to eat better and stick to a healthy diet, we’re not always in the mood to prep and eat a superfood salad. Like when we’re PMS-y, hungover, tired, or blue and all we really want to do is order a pizza and devour it. And DUH, that’s why they call it “comfort food.”
But nutritionist Dana James explains that those kind of emotional cravings have less to do with our mood and more to do with the chemistry behind it. “When we’re stressed and have elevated cortisol levels,” she explains. “We tend to gravitate toward more sweet/fat food combinations.”
The upside is that James says it’s possible to make meals that are good for you and make you feel good while you’re eating them. Here are her tips for the easiest ways to eat healthy while satisfying those comfort cravings.
- When you’re sad - If you’re feeling down and want to boost your serotonin, you’ll be craving sweets. So James suggests making your own cacao truffles with cacao, almonds, hemp seeds, and dates, that way you get protein, healthy fats and some sweetness too.
- When you have PMS - Your hormones are leading you toward dessert, but James advises skipping the sweet stuff and eating starch-heavy veggies instead. She suggests a frittata with potato and a salad loaded with pumpkin seeds and avocado, or a roasted root vegetable salad and a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket, so you don’t even have to cook it.
- When you’re hungover - If you haven’t slept well, carbs are what you’re probably craving, but James says cucumber juice is a great hangover remedy. It’s high in potassium and other hydrating nutrients so you’ll be on the road to recovery soon. And if it’s a really bad one, she recommends a B vitamin, too.
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