COMFORT FOOD–Evil Plot or Sanity Saver?

What’s your favorite comfort food? Mashed potatoes and gravy? Chicken Soup? Ice Cream? It’s generally accepted that comfort food is traditionally eaten food that often provides a nostalgic or sentimental feeling to the person eating it), or simply provides the consumer an easy-to-digest meal, soft in consistency, and rich in calories, nutrients, or both. The nostalgic element most comfort food has may be specific to either the individual or a specific culture. Many comfort foods are flavorful; some may also be easy to prepare.

It appears that men’s go-to comfort food is generally a hot, hearty meal.

Women and young people, on the other hand, lean toward snack-type foods as comfort.

Studies have shown that comfort food may be related to feelings of guilt as easily as it is to warm, happy, nostalgic memories. Stress eating is a prime reason for the epidemic of obesity in the U.S.

So… here I am. I’m supposed to be writing but instead I’m thinking about what foods make me feel good, feel better, and/or feel less bad.

When I’m in a nostalgic mood,  especially when the weather is cold, I drink hot chocolate. This is not a packet to be mixed with hot water or milk. This is homemade, dark, delicious, soothing hot chocolate, made with cocoa powder and lots of sugar. My mother mixed sugar and cocoa, added a little water and heated the mixture on low until the sugar was melted. Then she slowly poured in milk and heated it until it was the perfect temperature. And if there were a few globs of cocoa floating on top, all the better.

When I’m sick, I love Pepsi cola and Ritz crackers. I truly doubt this is guilt or nostalgia. For me, this is food to counteract nausea. It works pretty well too.

Now comes the real confession. For guilt or stress eating, my go-to foods are (1) Rotel cheese dip and tortilla chips, preferably with a margarita, or (2) pasta with cheese sauce (or just pasta with butter and cheese) and lots of garlic. Paired, of course, with a fine boxed Riesling. Franzia is good. Looking at my guilt/stress favorites, it’s no wonder my skirts and getting a little tight.

So what’s my conclusion? Is comfort food an Evil Plot to make us fat and give us heart disease? Or is it a part of an intricate coping mechanism the body and mind have cooked up together to keep our overworked, overstressed, way-to0-busy minds from exploding.

Oh, I believe it’s a little bit of both. I think I’m going to make some hot chocolate.


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