Thoughts Regarding Comfort Food

photoWhat makes comfort food comforting? Because after I eat it I usually feel awful. Yes, I feel comforted in a warm food coma for about 5 minutes but then the guilt sets in. I find myself regretful…and thinking of salad.

What makes us choose comfort food to begin with? What makes it so comforting? Is it the food of my childhood? Is it that I didn’t have to make it? It is part of a habit I’ve always had? Is food nestled into my brain as The Thing I need when I want comfort? Is it physically filling when what I’m really looking for is emotional fulfillment? Is it that nothing else can compare to the sensory experience of food when we are simply looking for comfort? Is it something deeper? Or have I overcomplicated it?

I’ve been thinking a lot about food choices in the face of health, indulgence, guilt, and necessity. If there were no consequences I know I would eat garbage all day. How are those consequences strong enough to keep my impulses at bay?

photo(1)In my endless quest for life balance I’ve also been contemplating food balance. For me I usually eat so cleanly during the work week but the weekends become an ugly free for all. What about the weekend allows me to rationalize unhinging my jaw on Friday, eating all the things, and then snapping out of it on Sunday? Routine, convenience, social gatherings, control.

Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project, suggested in a recent blog to “find comfort food for your mind.” It’s an interesting metaphor for dealing with emotional fulfillment. Isn’t that what we’re seeking to fill with with food? Rubin also talks about how giving yourself a treat is actually a happiness myth, as I have been suspecting myself lately. So, really, is comfort food just an exercise in emotional eating? Is that healthy? Is it productive or destructive?  These are the things I contemplate when I know that my health has suffered from the result of finding the comfort in comfort food.

About Domestocrat

I'm a lady who enjoys photography, football, cooking, long drives with the windows down, This American Life, kettlecorn, hot yoga, pop punk, my nephews, my cat Reggie, and my home: Boston.
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11 Responses to Thoughts Regarding Comfort Food

  1. Joanna says:

    It’s interesting. I feel like my “comfort food” isn’t necessarily comfort food. It’s just stuff I love eating because it’s satisfying and delicious. Like bagels with cream cheese and lox and veggies. Or a delicious sandwich of some sort. Usually for me it’s not something uber unhealthy, but just something I don’t eat all the time.

  2. actsofrebellion says:

    never thought of it in that way…such a healthy way to look at things. love it!

  3. Alex says:

    I don’t think being healthy is all about eating salads or doing cleanses or any of that, it’s about making the food you love healthier. Love burgers and fries? Make your own with grass fed beef, low carb toasties from TJs with lots of avocado and your own sweet potato fries. Love ice cream? Eat so delicious coconut ice cream. Love tuna salad? Make it with greek yogurt and olive oil. Women’s Health magazine and Tone it Up both have great recipes and are pretty much a must read for this kind of stuff.

    • Domestocrat says:

      I agree and totally embrace swapping indulgences for things you can make at home. I do think though that most people view those sorts of treats as all or nothing, you know?

  4. StillValerie says:

    Yes, I’ve reached for “comfort foods” (like chocolate) when I’m feeling emotionally unfulfiled. But you’re right about looking for mental comfort food too. For me, one of my favourite mental comfort foods is playing with my dog. There’s no judgement and lots of unconditional love and licks! It’s also how I remind myself to live with abundance. I wrote about some other suggestions here.

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