Eating is one of the primal sensual pleasures in life. Tucking into steaming hot biryani or a delicious bowl of ice cream can be a real joy and something that makes life really seem worthwhile.
Happiness and food are really highly connected, from the pleasure of cooking and eating, to the changes in brain chemistry that food can bring about. We have always eaten for distraction or consolation or just to enhance our sense of well- being.
But after bingeing on the delicacies during any festivity, there are some days the body or rather the soul yearns for “comfort food”. The Oxford English dictionary included a definition of comfort food sometime in 1997, but the idea of feeding ones emotion is far older.
Adults, when under severe emotional stress, turn to food associated with the security of childhood, like grandma’s home cooked meal or mom’s favourite stew or just a simple bowl of hot chicken broth.
Imagine this -It’s a chilly, rainy winter day and you’re soaked through to the marrow. You had an awfully horrendous day at work, and hey! Look you just noticed a few wrinkles near your eyes. And to make matters worse you got dumped, you got dumped, you got dumped…
What do you do now? Stuff your face, of course.
While the causes of misery might differ, one thing’s for sure — when life turns sour, most of us go for something sweet, or savoury, or plain, no nonsense comforting homemade food. A dish that has restorative properties, has sentimental appeal, and is insanely delicious. Ideally they are soups, stews, mac n cheese, pizzas, pancakes ,egg dishes, French fries, stir fried noodles or fudgey brownies etc. just to name a few.
There seems to be a consistent connection between negative emotions and unhealthy foods. For example, chocolate which has a strong effect on mood, generally increasing pleasant feelings and reducing tension.
We also tend to associate certain foods with members of our family, social gatherings, and people taking care of us. So when we feel lonely we crave for these foods to give us comfort and security.
Loneliness, depression, and guilt or even success, were all found to be key drivers of comfort eating. Foods like ice cream, pasta or mashed potatoes, release energy very quickly into the bloodstream and elevate moods.
Honestly, it’s a bit unbelievable how my diet and emotional well-being are so closely tied. While its different with each culture and people, for me a bowl of hot ramen or a dish made from leftover rice stir fried with some veges and spices aka as Khichdi served along with some fried papadums is my ultimate go to comfort food.
What is yours? Leave a comment below and let me know!