Comfort food doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure

The Washington Post:

Food is supposed to make us feel good — content, fulfilled, connected. It’s meant to comfort us physically by easing hunger and bringing satisfaction, and emotionally by bonding us to others as we share in the experience of a meal.

It works that way from the start, when as babies we fill our bellies blissfully in the arms of a nurturing caregiver. There is no guilt involved then. But somewhere along the road to adulthood, the notion of comfort food takes a wrong turn — it becomes something we crave, even obsess over, but ultimately feel bad about eating. It comes with a moral judgment — often described as “sinful.” We are being “good” when we avoid it. That mind-set is so ingrained in our culture it can be tough to break away, but doing so frees you to look at comfort food in a new way and can help you ultimately to enjoy it healthfully.

If you are feeling a bit lonely, for example, instead of reaching immediately for the chips, touch base with a friend, write about your feelings in a journal, or even write about the chips themselves. (According to a 2011 study published in Psychological Science, participants asked to write about their experience eating comfort food felt significantly less lonely than those asked to write about eating a new food.) If you are reaching for food because you feel anxious or stressed, try a warm bath, a walk outside or a cup of tea instead of trying to munch your way to calm.

Read the whole story: The Washington Post

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