Whether you’re grilling up a rack of ribs for your BBQ party or working hard on a pot of chili for the colder months, there’s something to be said for the right comfort food when you need it most. From homemade chicken noodle soup to a sweet dessert, though, what makes us crave comfort foods? Why do they give us so much peace when we need it the most?
We all have foods that we love to turn to when things get hectic and stressful. Keep reading to learn why certain comfort foods provide exactly what their name suggests: comfort!
It Satisfies a Craving
There’s nothing quite like satisfying a craving that you have. No matter if you just have a sweet tooth that makes you want a candy bar or a hearty meal that your family used to make, there’s something to be said about simply satisfying a want. This is true for food but it can also be compared to finally sitting down to watch a new movie you were excited for or finally taking a day off work.
It’s important to prioritize personal wants when it’s possible and when it’s a healthy choice for you. Of course, you can even make comfort food healthy, so you can cater to your cravings while staying on a healthy and nourishing meal plan. This way, you don’t have to worry as much about the unhealthy effects that comfort eating can have if you aren’t careful or eating in healthy moderation.
Food Can Have a Nostalgic Link
As mentioned already, food can be fairly nostalgic. In the earlier example, this was linked to a hearty meal from the times you may have eaten with your family. However, there are plenty of other possibilities such as a candy that a close friend tended to buy you or a dessert a grandparent baked frequently.
The point of the matter is this: there’s nothing quite as comforting as a comforting memory. Food is often a window to these memories since it stimulates multiple senses. For example, what was cooking in the memory you’re unlocking? What did it taste, smell, or even feel like?
By entertaining all the senses, food can help unlock memories that might not otherwise feel very strong on their own. This can make foods linked to positive memories especially comforting when you’re trying to balance a hectic lifestyle and food is a great way to link your meal to a comforting memory and give you a little bit of stress relief.
Certain Foods are Linked to Celebrations
Food is inherently linked to holidays and celebrations. After all, there are plenty of holidays that people celebrate with a feast. For one, in the United States, Thanksgiving is usually accompanied by a full spread of turkey and countless sides. Another example is Christmas, where the concept of a Christmas ham or other holiday food is fairly common. Even birthdays are usually celebrated with a cake!
You might even have a specific meal that’s linked to how you and your loved ones celebrate a holiday rather than linked with traditional foods of that holiday. For instance, if you have your favorite meal for your birthday every year, it could be linked to that as well as just being your favorite food.
Since the holidays are times to relax – at least, ideally – the food we eat during those times may comfort us in a similar vein to unlocking a memory. Food can remind us of times that are associated with comfort and being surrounded by family and friends which is a great thing to have when things get hectic in life.
Food is Associated with Social Gatherings
Another aspect of hectic life might mean that you don’t get to go visit friends or family as much just because there may not be as much free time to go around. This means that when things get busy, people tend to miss their loved ones and food can help with that.
As we’ve discussed multiple times at this point, memories and food are directly and inextricably linked. In the same vein, food may not be linked to a specific memory but the general memory of an ongoing holiday tradition or just the concept of seeing friends and family to celebrate. Even when this type of celebration isn’t possible, there are plenty of different types of food that you can make to feel closer to your loved ones by reminding yourself of gatherings with them.
Summing It All Up
While eating comfort food constantly can have its drawbacks, specifically, unhealthy comfort food, it also has certain advantages. If you eat unhealthy foods in moderation and use healthy substitutes to create a balanced diet, you can enjoy comfort foods that give you peace when life gets a little too hectic to handle.