To comfort or not to comfort

Truth: sometimes we all have bad days. Today was one for me. Most people I know turn to comfort foods when times are tough. Desserts, ice cream, and candy are common. Or maybe it is take-out chinese food for you. I know someone whose comfort food is chicken noodle soup over mashed potatoes. I sometimes find a Big Mac comforting. We all have our food.

But does that food actually make us feel better? I can’t find the reference now, but I recently heard about some research done that indicates the answer is no. Eating a healthy food had the same effect as the comfort food. Some research has shown that not eating has the same effect.

I’m curious if this rings true for any of you readers out there. I have mixed thoughts on this.

1) I’m not convinced that a lab stimulated “depressed” mood from watching a sad movie is the same as how we feel after a bad day.

2) Not all comfort foods are created equal. No one food is the right answer every time (or any time if you believe the research).

3) I will admit that sometimes eating something healthy gives me enough of a positive boost (Hey look, I did something good for myself) to get through. And exercising can have the same effect as well.

4) Most of the time, the effects of anything, comfort food or otherwise, are fairly short lived on your overall mood for the day.

I’ll admit without shame that I ate some ice cream to help me through my rough day.

Let me know in the comments what your comfort foods are and if this research rings true for you or not!

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2 Comments

Filed under Nutrition

2 responses to “To comfort or not to comfort

  1. Jessica

    Interesting thoughts. Mostly when I eat comfort food I don’t think it really helps, but there are a few times when I have noticed a significant difference. The first is when we were in college and we would share that awesome pumpkin chocolate chip cookie whenever one of us would have a crummy day. Maybe it wasn’t the cookie but rather the company and knowing I could vent to a friend that then made my day significantly better afterwards. Since then, a pumpkin chocolate chip cookie can always make my day better.
    Recently I knew I was going to have a hard day, it was just one of those mornings. Rather than indulge in comfort food at 8:30 am I bought my self a slice of Cheesecake Factory cheesecake to use as celebration for getting through the day. And you know what? It worked! Every time I thought about what a rough day it was I would remember that I had a piece of delicious cheesecake waiting for me and I would keep on keepin’ on.
    I guess I would say that for me, comfort food that works has more to do with the company and/or the memories associated with them. If I am reminded of those who love and support me, then the comfort food does its job. Otherwise, I don’t feel any better.

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