Tips to improve comfort eating through nutrient-dense dairy

by | Jun 1, 2020 | Food hub, Women Hub | 6 comments

As countries around the world, like South Africa, grapple with easing lock-down and rebuilding economies, COVID-19 remains part of our everyday life. Protection from the novel virus is likely to remain a high priority for the foreseeable future. Maintaining our health and supporting our immune systems has probably never been so important for our families. Many South Africans are also tightening the purse strings on their household budgets as the financial consequences of the pandemic response become starker and global recession looms. Tips to improve comfort eating through nutrient-dense dairy is our focus going forward.

How to get bang for your buck?

When it comes to food and getting the most ‘bang for your buck’, focussing on nutrient density will be key.  The question is, “How can you get healthful nutrition that strengthens your family’s immune systems on a tighter budget?” From the days when a glass bottle of milk was left on our doorstep (not to give away my age, but I remember this), we’ve always known that dairy is not just good for us but blessedly affordable, through the good times and the tough times. Dairy is unique in its offering of high-quality protein, as well as an array of essential vitamins and minerals, such as calcium. Dairy, on its own or as a vital ingredient, is also a fond family comfort food!

Tips to improve comfort eating

Your girl is an emotional eater. In fact, I’ve always eaten my emotions and my latest posts on social media should clarify that.  Financial worry, boredom, frustration with confinement, depression and sleep disturbances are just some of the common ways that the extreme stress of the pandemic is playing out in our daily lives. Lockdown takes its toll on our emotional well-being and overall mental health, and it’s not surprising that many South Africans are ‘comfort eating’. 

Freshly baked bread, banana bread, pancake cereal, the yummiest of cakes and our spin our fav takeaway food has trended worldwide on social media.  These foods are known to increase the ‘feel-good’ hormone serotonin, but at the same time they provide a lot of energy without the necessary nutrients and can lead to unwanted weight gain.

Physical hungerEmotional hunger
It develops slowly over time.Comes about suddenly or abruptly.
You desire a variety of food groups.Cravings for only certain foods.
One feels the sensation of fullness and take it as a cue to stop eating.You may binge on food and not feel a sensation of fullness.
No negative feelings about eating.You feel guilt or shame about eating.

While filling up may work in the moment, eating because of negative emotions often leaves people feeling more upset than before. This cycle typically doesn’t end until a person addresses emotional needs head on.

Tips to improve comfort eating

Discovering another way to deal with negative emotions is often the first step toward overcoming emotional eating.

  • This could mean writing in a journal
  • Reading a book
  • Find a few minutes to otherwise relax and decompress from the day
  • Move your body (walk, jog, yoga or even dance.  It all counts)
  • Try meditation
  • Start a food diary or use app like My Fitness Pal to track what you consume on a daily basis
  • Eat a healthy immune boosting diet
  • Take common offenders out of your pantry
  • Pay attention to volume
  • Seek support
  • Banish distractions
  • Work on positive self-talk

Food may help ease emotions initially but addressing the feelings behind the hunger is important in the long term.

The alternative

A better option is to boost serotonin levels by including foods with an amino acid called tryptophan in your diet. Milk and dairy products are rich sources of tryptophan, which the body uses to produce serotonin. Tryptophan also produces melatonin, another biochemical that helps to promote sleep and relaxation. A glass of warm milk at night, can contribute to your serotonin and melatonin levels and help you to feel less stressed. You will also sleep more peacefully. Milk is also known to help you keep fuller for longer and can help limit unnecessary eating. We must ensure that our ‘lock-down nibbling’ doesn’t fuel obesity, which promotes COVID-19 co-morbidities such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and respiratory problems. Instead of nutrient-poor snacks try delicious frozen yoghurts, dairy and fruit smoothies and whole-grain crackers with cottage cheese.

tips comfort eating

For the love of dairy

From cheese toasties and bowls of gogo’s amasi to buttermilk rusks and heart-warming umphokoqo, dairy really is the ultimate comfort food.  Not only nurturing our bodies but invoking treasured childhood memories and giving us that sense in the moment that things can turn out alright and our world will be well again. Other healthy dairy packed meal ideas are:

  • Smoothies
  • Breakfast parfaits
  • Mac & cheese (use aged Gruyere instead of Cheddar and load with veggies)
  • Buttermilk oatmeal pancakes
  • Quiches made with an almond flour base
  • Grilled nectarines with mascarpone
  • Quinoa pudding
  • Bran muffins
  • Baked potatoes with cream cheese
  • Spinach, bacon and cheese pudding

READ : The importance of dairy and fitness

World Milk Day

This year, on the 20th anniversary of World Milk Day, Rediscover Dairy  will be celebrating all that dairy has to offer into our own homes: enjoyment, versatility, affordable access to nutrients and nostalgia.  June 1 was chosen as the date because many countries were already celebrating a milk day during that time of year. The Day provides an opportunity to focus attention on milk and raise awareness of dairy’s part in healthy diets, responsible food production, and supporting livelihoods and communities.

World Milk Day

1 June 2020

Celebrate World Dairy Day on 1 June 2020 with delicious, dairy-inspired family treats, and to learn more about how you can include dairy in your diet, join the Rediscover Dairy Facebook page by clicking HERE.


  1. Great and informative post, keep it up ❤️❤️

    • Thank you for taking the time to read the post

    • thanks for the feedback

  2. Think should the food diary just to get shocked to see what I really eat everyday!!

    • A little confused by your response

    • you are incredibly disciplined though


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Living to inspire has become my life’s purpose, so much so that what started out as just a personal blog has transformed into an inclusive community that supports women and children.  Fit Like Mummy aims to inspire fellow South Africans to find the fit in all areas of their lives.

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