And What About Those Comfort Foods?

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This term was actually added to the dictionary in 1977 and defined as “food that comforts or affords solace; hence any food that is associated with childhood or home cooking”. Usually these comfort foods contain high sugar or carbohydrate content. This term usually refers to a change in our mental state by providing warmth and a sense of fullness like that big slice of chocolate cake, lasagna or even those buttery mashed potatoes. It has also been shown through studies that comfort food is linked to something social and there is an emotional bond or attachment to the food.

The Power Of Comfort Foods

There was a study published in the journal Appetite that revealed the power of comfort food is based on the associations that it calls to mind. This could be any number of foods, depending upon the person and their earlier associations. People who have strong family relationships often reach for something that reminds them of those strong relationships during their times of stress. Quite often those reminders come to us in the edible form. Perhaps this would explain why you want pizza, popcorn or mashed potatoes in those times of stress. This might recall memories of a family get together or a childhood party with family and friend.

Believe it or not, according to another study, chicken soup was considered to be a comfort food by those who had strong emotional relationships.

If the relationship was a strong one, the more satisfying the soup was to the person. The comfort foods tend to be delicious and satisfying and the reasoning behind why certain foods make us feel at ease is because of the associations we make with them.

The Favorite Comfort Foods

About 15% of Americans list pizza as their favorite comfort food, which nearly doubles that of any other food choice. This was revealed in a study conducted by the Harris Poll, one of the longest running surveys, measuring public opinion in the U.S. The survey was completed with 2,252 U.S. adults surveyed in December.

Tied for second was chocolate and ice cream, followed by mac & cheese and chips. The study also revealed the reason for indulging was quite different for each person. About 54% of women are more likely to grab for their comfort food when stressed, while the majority of men (43%) indulge after a good day. Millennials and Gen Xers are more likely to eat their comfort food when they are stressed, while the baby boomers consume these foods after a bad day. Those over 70 years old will indulge after a good day.

A whopping 66% of people don’t feel guilty about their consumption, 41% indicate that they would work out longer or more intensely to justify eating their favorite comfort food. Don’t we all make those promises? Anything to have a scrumptious piece of chocolate or that banana cream pie!

So when you’re stressed, grab that comfort food and then plan a day of hiking, exercising or literally any extra activity you enjoy. If not then, well, then I guess we could do it another day, right?
– Dr Fredda Branyon

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