21 Most Dangerous Comfort Foods

closeup portrait of beautiful blond young woman with green eyes

Sometimes you feel that the entire world has turned against you and that bad things have started piling on you with unnerving intensity. In such moments, one of the best ways to make the blues go away is to enjoy a nice big serving of your favorite comfort food; something that makes you feel better.

The only problem is that most comfort foods are not exactly healthy for you. In fact, the large majority of comfort foods are actually quite bad for your health and today we will be looking at 21 of the worst examples.

1. Ice Cream

In the world of comfort foods, ice cream holds an almost mythical place. It is the ultimate comfort food for many people who know that nothing feels better than curling up with a nice big bucket of their favorite ice cream and a great movie or a book.

And while nothing else can truly approach the comforting texture and the subtle flavors of ice cream, there are few foods that are worse for you than it is. Especially in amounts that we tend to eat when craving the delicious dessert as a way of comforting ourselves.

A half cup of your average ice cream will, for instance, contain 270 calories, 33 grams of carbs and 14 grams of fat. When you extrapolate that to the amounts of ice cream you actually eat during those rough times, you can understand that we are talking about a full-fledged attack on your body.

Chicken pot pie

2. Chicken Pot Pie

With its delicious crunchy crust and the creamiest filling imaginable, a slice or two (or ten) of steaming hot chicken pot pie can be one spectacular dish of pure comfort. It makes you feel like you are a little kid again, enjoying that mouth-watering flavor at your grandma’s house.

Unfortunately, chicken pot pie is also one of the more devastating comfort foods when it comes to its effects on your body. A single pot pie will pack more than 500 calories and 29 grams of pure fat and that is not counting all the carbs and protein in it.

Instead of gorging on chicken pot pie, it is far better to go with homemade dumplings that can be just as delicious but that will not come with the baggage that will ruin your waistline. Especially if you keep the filling veggie-heavy, which you will want to do.

Baked Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

3. Macaroni And Cheese

While we are at foods that make you think of childhood and thus provide the much needed comfort in times of distress, we simply had to mention the famous mac and cheese. It is the food we all stuffed our faces with in front of the TV at one point or another and there are really very few foods that have the same effect on our mood as mac and cheese.

And as you can imagine, it is just horrendous for you and your waistline. Just a single cup of macaroni and cheese will fill your system up with almost 500 calories, 22 grams of fat on average and more than 50 grams of pure carbs. In essence, if you eat a bigger bowl of it, you are getting more than your daily requirements of pretty much everything.

A great way to still enjoy mac and cheese is to combine it with healthier foods such as baked chicken, turkey or fish or a side dish of roasted vegetables.

Man Putting Dish Of Lasagne Into Oven To Cook

4. Lasagna

Lasagna is another food that many of us reach for when we are feeling down, especially if we have someone who is supplying us with seemingly endless supplies of lasagna that mostly end up in the freezer. And then, when we’re feeling down, we reach for our stash and do our best impression of Garfield.

Well, unless you want to get all tubby and chubby like the favorite comic strip cat, you will think about cutting down on your comforting lasagna. We are talking 350 calories, 12 grams of fat and whole 35 grams of carbs in a single, reasonably-sized serving.

The good news is that you can make your lasagna healthier with a few modifications that will not ruin the flavor – whole-grains noodles, grilled chicken breasts instead of sausage and beef and huge quantities of vegetables for more of your lasagna layers.

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits and Gravy

5. Biscuits And Sausage Gravy

There are only a few true comfort food classics, and biscuits and sausage gravy are definitely among them. Sausage comes in with its godly greasiness and its punch of pure flavor, the biscuits add the saltiness and the crunch and the creaminess of the gravy ties the whole thing together.

The first reason why this particular dish is bad for you is the caloric count which clocks at almost 400 per serving. In addition to this, you are gorging on 21 grams of fat and the worst part of the whole concoction is the 1,300 mg of sodium. No matter how you cut it, biscuits and sausage gravy will hit your body like a ton of bricks.

Your cardiovascular system will be getting hit the worst with this dish, which seems to have been invented to clog arteries. Besides making you feel better, of course. It’s a shame.

Portrait of young woman with pizza at kitchen

6. Pizza

When you are feeling down, there is 50-50 chance that you will pick up your phone and order a nice, greasy, cheesy pizza. The greasier and the unhealthier, the better. A beer or two to go with it and you have the perfect comfort food meal. The only problem is that this might be one of the worst things that you can do to your body.

Two slices of pizza (note – two slices, not half of it or a whole pizza) will provide a punch with almost 600 calories, 60 grams of carbs, 30 grams of protein and 26 grams of fat. And this is just your standard pizza, not one of those “special” kinds where you get meat from half a cow and half a pig for toppings.

If you do not have a local pizza place that does healthy pizza, you will need to learn to make it yourself. Keep the following two things in mind: thin crust, more vegetables.

French fries

7. French Fries

Just imagine a big, golden mountain of crisp, salty French fries that are just waiting for you to dunk them in some ketchup or even ranch dressing. It instantly makes you feel better, doesn’t it? And indeed, French fries are among the most mood-elevating comfort foods around.

And as you can imagine, they are among the worst for you as well. If you go for a sizeable serving (and let’s be honest, you will be), you are stuffing your face with almost 550 calories, 65 grams of carbs and 30 grams of fat, in just the French fries.

When you add ketchup or mayo to the mix and when you factor in the salt that you will be sprinkling over your fries, you are adding some serious sodium content to the mix. Throw some burgers in as well and you got yourself one super unhealthy comfort dish.


8. Chocolate

Chocolate is perhaps the most straightforward of all comfort foods in that its “comfortiness” stems from pure chemistry. Namely, eating chocolate supplies your central nervous system with chemical compounds that will directly and actively enhance your mood, especially if you eat large quantities of the dark goodness.

It is also the staple comfort food and when we’re feeling particularly down. Of course, all this comfort and mood improvement comes at a price – that price being the sugar content, as well as the fats found in chocolate.

If you just cannot steer clear of chocolate, go for dark chocolate. Modern nutrition science is discovering new beneficial effects that this type of chocolate can have on your health almost daily.  For example, it has been found to decrease chances of developing heart disease. And this is just a single example.

Grilled steaks, pork with pepper gravy and vegetable salad

9. Fried Pork Chops And Gravy

Fried pork chops and gravy may not be the quickest food dish to throw together, but it more than pays off in comfort. The delicious meat and the mouth-watering gravy can turn your frown upside down before you can say “quadruple bypass”.

A single serving of this comfort super meal will pack 500 calories, 55 grams of carbohydrates, as well as 20 grams of fat. In addition to this, we are also talking significant amount of sodium to add to injury. It will not only make you put on weight, but it might wreak havoc on your heart and arteries.

It is all about the frying. If you grill or bake the pork chop, you are dramatically lowering the content of negative nutrients and calories. If you replace your mashed potatoes and mac and cheese with a nice homemade salad, you will actually make this meal quite healthy.


10. Fried Catfish

This is a meal that is particularly popular in the South, but that is not saying that the rest of the country and the world have not adopted it as an exquisite example of comfort food. Many people believe that because it’s fish that’s fried and not beef, that it is actually good for them. Well, here is a bit of bad news: it isn’t.

Once again, the culprit is the frying process; this time made even worse thanks to the fact that we are talking deep frying that involves batter as well. A single serving of fried catfish will thus contain more than 400 calories and 25 grams of fat. Not exactly healthy, is it?

The good thing is that there are literally hundreds of different recipes that will be even more delicious than fried catfish and that will be immeasurably healthier. The important thing is to avoid frying.

fat man eating hamburger

11. Cheeseburgers

The cheeseburger is a true American classic and even though it is not always eaten as comfort food, there is no denying that a nice fat cheeseburger will make anyone feel better when they are down. While there are more and less unhealthy variants of this classic dish, in most cases, we are talking about a meal that will not be great for your body.

Depending on the ‘layout’ of the cheeseburger, we are talking anywhere from 500 calories to a whopping 8.000 calories in a single Quadruple Bypass Burger from the Heart Attack Grill. The names are really not hiding anything.  Of course, these are extremes, but even the less unhealthy versions will still contain too much sodium, preservatives and saturated fats for anyone’s good.

In short, if you know what’s good for you, you will steer clear of the cheeseburger in general. Especially when you are feeling down and there is increased chance you might go for a few more.


12. Sugary Drinks

Even though they are not technically food, sugary drinks are definitely an inseparable part of every ‘down’ period when you crave comfort. Perhaps the worst thing is that you do not even notice how much of it you are gulping down – from all kinds of soda to various ‘coffee’ variants and ‘natural’ juices.

They all come with a ton of sugar and that alone makes them unhealthy for you. When you add the fact that these drinks hold no nutritional value and that they also supply your body with copious amounts of empty calories, it becomes obvious you should avoid them.

We will give you just one example, Starbucks’ Java Chip Frappuccino which holds almost 600 calories and 21 grams of fat in a 20-ounce cup. Healthy alternatives to these include various teas which you will not ruin with too much sugar and freshly squeezed natural juices. Once again, without the sugar added.


13. Chips and crisps

There are a few reasons why potato chips are a great comfort food. For one, their saltiness can make them your best friend when feeling down, especially in combination with a particularly delicious dip.

Also, they are extremely convenient. Finally, they go great with beer, which might also be a part of your comforting process. Potato chips are actually considered to be one of the worst snacks that you can enjoy. For one, they are covered in salt, which translates to sodium which is just insanely unhealthy for your cardiovascular system.

Furthermore, they are fried in hydrogenated vegetable oils, which means too much trans fats. The worst thing about potato chips is that the more delicious they are, the worse they are for you, thanks to all the additives and MSG they add to them to achieve that flavor you like so much.

Homemade Southern Fried Chicken

14. Fried Chicken And Waffles

There are a few combo meals that make for such a perfect comforting mix like fried chicken and waffles. One might say that this is actually the perfect combination for mood elevation, working much better than most antidepressants. Of course, we are exaggerating, but you get the idea.

And while fried chicken and waffles can do wonders when you are not feeling your best, they are also an unhealthy dish extraordinaire. For instance, a single serving of all this deliciousness will contain more than 1,000 calories and a ton of fats and refined carbohydrates.

Frying is one of the main reasons why this dish is so unhealthy, especially when the chicken is breaded. If you are looking to make it healthier, try baking or grilling the chicken instead. Also, if you can live without waffles, another good idea would be to exclude them. Eat grilled chicken, basically. See how that works for you.

Mashed Potato with Gravy

15. Mashed Potatoes And Gravy

Mashed potatoes and gravy are usually a side dish, but they are so comforting that they deserve a special place of their own on our list. We will not even be mentioning the stuff you eat with it. In this combination, both parts are equally unhealthy.

First of all, you have the mashed potatoes which include butter, whole milk and cream. These are all packed with fats and a single serving of mashed potatoes alone can have almost 300 calories. Gravy only adds to injury thanks to its high content of salt and fats which are often the result of cooking the meat in various ways.

One positive thing is that you will find quite a few recipes for healthier mashed potatoes and even more healthy gravy alternatives that may not be as delicious as the real stuff, but that will also not put a strain on your system.


16. Creamy Soups And Stews

Creamy soups and stews are comfort foods that your grandma would be pleased to know you enjoy. And they truly are comforting in that old-school sense of the word, bringing back memories of family meals and times when you were surrounded by your loved ones. They are especially hearty when the weather is cold.

And while they might seem as one of the healthier comfort food ideas, they are actually not that healthy at all. For instance, a hearty soup or stew with plenty of meat, cream and especially cheese will contain serious fat content, as well as calories. One of the worst is the famous French onion soup, a true caloric classic.

The easiest way to make your soups and stews healthier is to go heavy on the vegetables and, in case you just cannot imagine them without meat, go with lean chicken.


17. Chili

While we are on the subject of foods that warm the body and soul on windy and cold days, we would be remiss not to mention many people’s favorite – chili. Depending on the ingredients, a standard bowl of chili can have up to 500 calories, which is definitely a lot.

Another reason why chili can be bad for you is the fatty meat which is usually used to make it, like for instance beef, pork and sausage. If you add cheese on top, which you will do if you know what’s delicious, you are making it even unhealthier. Furthermore, you will most likely be using canned beans to make it and since all canned goods contain ridiculous amounts of sodium, this is also not good.

To make it healthier, use beans with low or no sodium and limit the meat that goes in your chili. Add more vegetables and if you can, avoid topping it off with cheese.

Homemade Thanksgiving Stuffing

18. Stuffing

An inseparable part of every lavish comfort meal is the stuffing that can come with all kinds of meats and especially roasts. There are meals that are absolutely pointless without stuffing and it is safe to say that it is a comfort food all on its own.

Experts agree that stuffing which is made with sausage and butter can be extremely bad for the health, especially if you douse it in gravy, which is more than a possibility. We are talking some serious calories here, as well as fat and sodium which are extremely bad for your cardiovascular system.

Luckily, there are some clever and easy ways to make it at least a bit healthier by using a fat-free broth as base, going wild with the vegetables and perhaps even fruit to give it that sweet note. Believe it or not, but this kind of stuffing can actually be really delicious and comforting as well.

pack of cookies

19. Packaged Cookies

A cookie is a friend. It is not just dessert. A cookie can be the best ally you will have in your battle against the blues and the best thing is that there are so many of them, with each and every one of them ready to be dipped in milk and eaten for your comfort.

The primary reason why store-bought cookies may not be that good of a friend is that they are made using trans fats, even in cases where they are labeled as trans-fat free. We are not sure how they can do that legally, but experts agree that they do. They need the fats and the oils to make them shelf-stable without spending too much.

Another problem with cookies are the sweeteners that most of them contain in high quantities. They are artificial and as such, they are quite bad for you. But perhaps the biggest problem is the sheer amount of cookies that you will eat when you are feeling down.

Beautiful woman with donuts, one eye than have a pink donut

20. Bagels and Doughnuts

Donuts are famous for being one of the worst things you can put in your body, but this does not stop anyone from gorging on a few when times get rough. Their combination of sugar, cholesterol, MSG, trans fats and preservatives makes them a dessert from hell, especially if you are going to eat more than a few.

In essence, no one should eat more than a donut or two in a month. A month. Bagels were for some time lauded as a healthier alternative to donuts, which has some merit. Not that it is that hard to be healthier than donuts, though.

While they are definitely healthier than their more delicious cousins, bagels still pack a ton of carbohydrates, almost half of your daily allowance in a single one. In short, it is better to stay away from donuts and bagels if you know what’s good for you.

Woman eating pasta

21. Pasta Dishes and Dressings

Pasta is generally not too bad for you, unless you go overboard, that is. However, if you go for more comforting variants, especially in restaurants, you might be getting a caloric bomb that you didn’t sign up for. For example, some Olive Garden and Buca di Beppo pasta dishes contain near 1,000 calories so be careful.

Dressings are perhaps the sneakiest of foods on our list because they are added to salads which are generally considered to be quite healthy. Popular dressings such as Blue Cheese dressing or Ranch dressings can pack quite a calorie content and you will eat it all up thinking you are eating healthy.

Great thing about both pasta dishes and salad dressings is that homemade variants can be very healthy while still retaining their comforting properties. Healthy recipes are out there and they are yours for the taking.

Continue Reading

From Around The Web

Popular on Diet.st