Few people can say no to comfort foods. Chocolates, pizza, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, meatballs... all create a magical world in which we wish to indulge, even though they could clearly be a health risk.
What's charming about comfort foods, and how to enjoy them while eating healthily? This article provides a hint.
Emotional comfort and happy memories
People eat comfort foods more for fulfilling emotional needs than just feeding. Comfort foods are usually defined as foods that people have in order to feel pleasant or psychologically comfortable. That's also why we crave comfort foods.
A recall of happy memories and thoughts
A study published in the International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science confirmed that certain foods can be associated with positive social encounters in the past and serve as comfort foods.
The foods often have a special meaning, such as chicken soup your mom used to make for you when you’re sick, pancakes you once ate in a happy trip, and a memorable meal you enjoyed during Thanksgiving holidays with family. And whenever you recall the memories, you may want to try the foods again seeking for happy thoughts.
A relief from negative moods
Psychologically, sugary, fatty and carbohydrate-rich foods appear to provide immediate comfort, especially for people who are experiencing stress, anxiety, fear and frustration, according to studies.
Having comfort foods temperately
There’s a wide debate about comfort foods, mostly for its unhealthy trait. Most comfort foods contain too much sugar, saturated fat and refined carbohydrates, and excessive intake may hinder one’s concentration levels, raise the risk for heart disease and lead to obesity.
However, if comfort foods mean something nice and happy, the best way is to enjoy them in small portions and on occasion. Complete reject may lead to negative thoughts and overeating; limited intake can both satisfy your appetite and prevent negative impacts on your health.
You can also make your healthier version of the comfort foods by using alternative ingredients. For example, you can use natural yogurt as a substitute for cream and wholegrain bread for white.
But keep this in mind: if you take comfort foods frequently in order to relieve your bad mood, maybe it's time to find out what is triggering your negative emotions. Talk to your friends about your suffering, or seek help from your doctor to release your frustration and stress.