bowl of homemade macaroni and cheese

Low-Carb Winter Comfort Foods

Cold temps make us want to dig into hearty, richer fare. We humans are complex creatures and there are physiological and psychological factors which drive our cold weather cravings.

A glance at magazine covers during this time of year tells the story: indulgent holiday recipes in December give way to diet and exercise tips in January. Gas sufferers have a few more concerns beyond winter weight gain. The starch and dairy you’ll find in most comfort foods can cause excessive intestinal gas. Here’s how to enjoy all that savory goodness without fear of gas and bloating.

What causes cravings?

If insatiable carb cravings are as much a sign of winter as the wind chill report, your body may be trying to tell you something. Your annual mac ‘n’ cheese binge can do more than keep you from fitting into your skinny jeans.

Dr. Mike Roussell cites the “link between food and our hormones and emotions” as the reason for attributing this common concern to “seasonal affective disorder (SAD).” Symptoms include increased difficulty concentrating, edginess, sleeping more than usual and sluggishness. Dr. Roussell asserts: “Since comfort foods are generally high in fat and carbs, they can increase serotonin production and thus feelings of wellbeing, making them a natural pick for anyone feeling low.”

How to deal with it

Sunshine in a bottle …

Many of our winter woes are attributable to a Vitamin D deficiency. Safe sun exposure during the warmer months allows your body to store enough of the vitamin to last throughout the winter. If you spend a lot of time indoors or, like many of us, avoid sun exposure you may not have adequate reserves. Click here to read further about how much sun exposure is advisable for your individual needs (skin tone and location).

If your region of the country will be in the cold and dark until a few weeks past Groundhog Day, what can you do? The only way to determine your individual level of this essential nutrient is to take a blood test and have a qualified medical professional interpret the results. Dr. Roussell says that adequate levels of Vitamin D, commonly referred to as the sunshine vitamin, “is associated with a decrease in depressive symptoms.” He continues: “If you want to skip the blood test, you can start taking 2,000 to 3,000 IU of vitamin D each day, as this dosage is shown to be safe. I would caution against supplementing with higher levels, however, without having a blood test done.”

Click here for a list of Vitamin D-rich foods.

… Or in a box

Light therapy can also be used to combat the effects of SAD. The Mayo Clinic asserts: ” … for some people, light therapy may be more effective when combined with another SAD treatment, such as an antidepressant or psychological counseling (psychotherapy).” Mayo advises against the DIY approach to this therapy. Would-be users are strongly encouraged to consult a doctor before purchasing a unit; there may be contraindications (don’t use for medical reasons) for those with certain eye conditions and/or those with bipolar disorder.

Mayo cautions consumers to be aware of the following when choosing a light box:

  • Is it made specifically to treat SAD?
  • How bright is it?
  • How much UV light does it release?
  • Can it cause eye damage?
  • Is it the style you need?
  • Can you put it in the right location?

Read this portion of the article for further information about the selection process. Regardless, you should consult your doctor about the recommended frequency and length of light therapy sessions. It’s advisable to have a thorough check-up before changing your diet, exercise or other health-related regimen.

Substitutions for common comfort foods

Most comfort foods are dairy- and starch heavy. Cauliflower is an amazingly versatile ingredient. Puréed cauliflower is a great substitute for cream sauces; mashed cauliflower florets can be used in place of potatoes or processed with other ingredients to form a pizza crust. Vegetable spirals can be used as a substitute for wheat-based pasta.


Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese in 4 Minutes

PopSugar’s Adapted Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Noodle Alfredo

The Dinner Mom‘s recipe swaps veggie spirals for carb-rich noodles.

Pizza Crust

The Best Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Valerie Bertinelli Pizza Crust


Coconut Cheesecake with Macadamia Nut Crust

Low Carb Slow Cooker Chocolate Cake Recipe

This recipe calls for Swerve, a sugar substitute that contains erythritol; a gas-producing sugar alcohol. Instead, try Now Foods Organic Stevia.


Baked Zucchini chips

Low Carb Doritos

Texas Chicken Nachos

Your doctor can best advise you about a healthy combination of nutrition and exercise. If you just can’t pass up your favorite comfort foods, two CharcoCaps® capsules will help you enjoy them without worry. CharcoCaps® dietary supplement relieves gas and bloating FAST!*

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


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