The true meaning of comfort food

Over the years comfort food has taken on a rather negative meaning. If you search for the words “comfort food” you will be bombarded with articles about emotional eating and the unhealthy foods that go with it. Then below those articles you will see a list of recipes for those unhealthy and often rich foods. 

This is a sad state of affairs because true comfort food has less to do with food than it does with a situation. The food itself can be an apple or a bowl of low sodium chicken noodle soup from a can. The circumstances surrounding the desire and consumption of the food is the important part. 

The situation

For many people, certain foods remind them of good times shared with loved ones. An example is blueberry pancakes can bring back memories of Sunday morning breakfasts with the family as a child. For others certain foods can bring about happy thoughts such as associated with something positive (an event, activity or person). An example is beef stew which may represent the coming winter months of play in the snow. 

True comfort food can remind people of pleasant things in both the past and the present. The funny thing is many of those foods are not rich or salty or unhealthy. Fond memories can be created while eating a small bag of unsalted peanuts. So many of life’s precious moments do not occur while eating decadent chocolate cake or dishes of ice cream. It isn’t the food that made the memory special. The food simply brings the memory/feeling back. 

Facts about true comfort food

True comfort food nourishes the body and soul. It is the fond memories that make that particular food comforting in the first place. A simple piece of toast can bring back memories of mornings talking with grandma or a half of a grapefruit can cheerfully remind someone of their dad. 

All of those unhealthy and decadent foods generally do not have any good feelings attached. Therefore, seeing and eating those foods is not truly bringing comfort. There is a difference between enjoying a food and feeling good on the inside, about that food. 

What it all means

It is not certain who decided that a gooey cinnamon roll or a bag of greasy potato chips were comfort foods. One thing for sure is that many people probably have less fond memories associated with potato chips than they do of homemade pancakes or snacking on apples with friends as children. 

On the whole, there is little reason to continue the awful stigma associated with the phrase “Comfort food”. For those people who have wonderful memories associated with wheat bread or chicken noodle soup, continue enjoying that true comfort food!

High calorie, high sugar and high sodium foods are often mistakenly labeled as comfort foods. There is no denying that some people eat these foods when they are feeling emotional in some way. Emotional eating can cause serious problems and should not be taken lightly. 

True comfort foods make a person feel good because of the memories or positive feelings associated with that food. Many people have fond childhood memories of meals shared with family and friends for example. The food wasn’t the entire focus, the time spent with loved ones is what was important about the meal.