How Indulging Our Emotional Cravings With Food Can Boost Our Social Health
Sharing our comfort foods and cooking experiences magnifies the power of edible love
Two spoons and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s may be the universal definition of comfort through food.
To you, comfort may taste like the piping hot creamy mac ‘n cheese that your mother used to make, or the plate of mashed potatoes oozing bits of excess butter served at Sunday dinners at your best friend’s house. And to someone else, the flavor of comfort may more closely resemble their grandmother’s warm matzo ball soup, their father’s spicy BBQ sauce, or a shared bowl of ice cream. No matter its form, comfort food is the food you crave when you need some love.
In times of stress, we want to savor the food that reminds us of warm connections with family and close friends. This concept is perfectly imagined in Ratatouille when Ego, the restaurant critic is served a plate of ratatouille, which it turns out, was his ultimate comfort food.
“Comfort food is what you eat because you’re too old to suck your thumb.” — Anonymous
Why do we seek comfort through food?
We have been craving comfort in edible forms from the time we were clamoring for a warm bottle with a side of love, from our mothers. However, it wasn’t until the 1960’s that the term was coined in an edition of the Palm Beach Post in an article about obesity.
Today we know that the causes of obesity are much more complex than the amount of comfort food in our diets and that our craving for comfort food can be best understood as part of our “hunger-to-belong”.