Food for thought: Why comfort food is so comforting?

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Comfort food is called comfort food for a reason! It’s comforting! Whether it’s the environment or the food itself, comfort food fills our souls with a sense of being safe like a big fuzzy blanket. Food can also hold onto memories that can play into how comforting the food is and which food we consider comfort food. 

This has been a year where I have lost some significant people in my life. Through losing both of my grandmas, I have been remembering my times with them through the food they would make for family dinners and treats that they were known for. From the Chelsea buns my maternal grandma made when we would have family holidays together to the jams that would be given to me whenever I was leaving my paternal grandma’s house. These foods hold important memories of times with the two of them and remind me of them now that they are no longer here. 

You don’t have to lose someone for food to have an emotional attachment to. Take birthday cakes for example. This is a comfort food for many as is a reminder of positive times, celebrations and connections with those important to us. Having an emotional attachment to food is something to be aware of. This can be a food that you crave when you are seeking comfort in your life. Although this understanding can bring you comfort in times of stress, it’s important that it’s not your only coping mechanism for managing your emotions. Using emotional eating as a coping mechanism can lead to unhealthy eating patterns. 

Emotional eating is a real thing and not necessarily bad. This is about the intention and regularity when you choose to eat emotionally. Emotional eating can be a way to remember and reminisce about good memories, connections and experiences. Be it my grandma’s homemade sticky buns to the pupusas that I had in Belize, eating these foods takes me back to those times. Emotional eating can become harmful when you are eating to fill a void or using food as a way to avoid certain emotions, especially when done regularly. 

Being intentional about when and why we choose to eat our comfort foods empowers us to understand our own emotions better. What is your comfort food? Comment below. I’d love to see the diversity of my community’s comfort food.