Comfort food. What the heck does this really mean? Is it food that makes you comfortable? Because what I call comfort food, leaves me feeling nasty. It’s what I eat when I need comfort, but does it really supply comfort? Comfort foods are defined as food associated with the security of childhood.
There have been numerous studies that indicate that certain food help increase our serotonin production. This calms us down and provides comfort. Yoga does that, why don’t I seek out yoga? I want to know!
I just read about a study that was done where they showed participants clips of disturbing movies. After watching the movie, the participant was offered choices. One is a self-proclaimed comfort food, one was a food they liked, one was a salty snack that had not been discussed, and the last choice was nothing. The article finds that “The comfort foods, the study authors discovered, did help boost participants’ moods—but so did the other foods, and so did receiving no food at all. People are resilient with or without their snacks, the researchers concluded—meaning that “comfort food” may be nothing more than an excuse to indulge in an old favorite.” (Romm) I dug a little deeper into the research, and it turns out that the need for “comfort food” is strongly correlated to feeling isolated when you have attached relationships. (Gabriel)
I found this to be intriguing. One study didn’t actually have the participants eat the comfort food, but they had them write about it. The participants were asked to write a short essay about the memory the comfort food provided. The participants responded that simply writing about the comfort food and the memory it provided was enough to provide comfort.
Hmmmm… So if this research is accurate, my comfort food needs go up if I am in a stressful situation, and I have a deep relationship with someone. When my need for comfort food is through the roof, one option is to take to pen and describe not the food, but the comforting memory. Let’s try this. When I get really worked up, the first thing I want is a cookie… not a store bought one. If this research is true, then focusing on a memory is the critical component. I remember when I was really little standing on a stool with my Mom baking cookies. Funny, I don’t actually remember eating them. I remember having a little apron that was a miniature version of what my Mom had on. I remember great big Tupperware bowls for mixing, and a huge wooden spoon. I remember carefully measuring out the ingredients and gently cracking the eggs. I remember feeling so important because I was allowed to help.
WOW… There may be something to this. When I started writing, I really wanted that cookie, but when I was writing that last bit, I was sitting straighter and smiling. And I didn’t want the cookie. Just another reminder of how powerful journaling our food and thoughts can be to our success.
Romm, Cari. “Why Comfort Food Comforts.” 3 April 2015. The Atlantic Magazine. <http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/04/why-comfort-food-comforts/389613/>.
Gabriel, Shira. “NCBI.” 26 Feb 2015. Threatened belonging and preference for comfort food among the securely attached. Web Page PubMed. 22 March 2016.