Sometimes you just need a big bowl of chicken and dumplings or a helping of rich, gooey macaroni and cheese. Comfort food is usually high in fat, energy-dense food that can be either sweet or savory. It’s almost like a comfy blanket for your soul. Foods like cake, stews, or meatloaf and mashed potatoes, all just make you feel like home.
Now, there’s no question that this type of comfort food probably shouldn’t be on your nightly meal plan. These cannot be confused with health food! But when you’re feeling a bit blue or just want to have a touch of your childhood, comfort food absolutely hits the spot.
Comfort food makes it better
If you’ve had a bad day and you’re feeling down, making comfort food like delicious sausage and peppers pasta for dinner can make you suddenly feel like things aren’t quite so bad. That’s because this kind of food, food that is high in sugar, salt, or fat (or all of the above), activates the brain’s reward system. This system can even be activated just by the anticipation of eating one of these meals.
Comfort food is like a little hug for your soul. It’s all about indulging in something you love but remember, if you’re truly dealing with depression, you need to talk to a professional. You don’t want to use food to but a bandage on something that’s actually broken. But, if you’ve just had a stressful day at work or your partner is driving you a little crazy; wrap yourself in a little food cocoon.
Comfort food makes you nostalgic
Certain foods have a way of taking us back in time. Making a meal your grandmother used to make for you can take you right back to her kitchen in your mind and can evoke those same warm feelings. Having family recipes that have been passed down through the generations always have a way of giving you a sense of belonging.
Whipping up a batch of ooey gooey chocolate chip cookies can make you feel like a child again. But be careful, mom isn’t there to tell you you can only have two! It’s always nice to think back to happy times and food has a way of transporting us to a different time and place.
Comfort food takes us back to special occasions
Holiday meals are most often associated with fond memories and happy days. I can’t help but remember my father when I make our traditional dressing. The first time I made it, I didn’t realize you needed sage to make it taste like dressing. Let me tell you, that was a bland pan of cornbread, celery, onions, and hard boiled eggs! That one ingredient is what makes the dressing taste like our traditional dressing. Now I’m all but famous for the dressing I make (among our dinner party friends that is!).
It’s those fond memories of holidays past when friends and family were all still alive and available to join for meals filled with rich deliciousness that comfort food brings. Maybe that’s really what comfort food is all about. As grown ups, our lives are filled with the responsibilities of the day. There is almost no time to take simply for ourselves. Making and eating comfort foods gives us permission to stop and allow that meal to ease our minds a bit. Comfort food really is good for the soul.