Comfort Foods

Comfort Foods from Canyon Echoes on Vimeo.

Lately, with the weather growing colder, comfort foods are making a comeback in restaurants and mustangs’ homes. They fill your mind with childhood memories, until you can practically smell the home-cooked foods and you can hardly wait for your next meal. But what makes these foods satisfy our cravings and rejuvenate childhood memories?

Comfort food is described by Merriam-Webster as “food that is satisfying because it is prepared in a simple or traditional way and reminds you of home, family, or friends”. So while it’s clear that comfort food tends to hold sentimental value, how strong of an initiative does this have on our mind?

According to Dr. David Levitsky, a professor of nutrition at Cornell University, our connection to foods is all about the association between the meal itself and the pleasant memories we had while eating a certain food. People tend to turn to their childhood favorites (ex. macaroni and cheese, chicken noodle soup, etc.) when they have a bad day, and could use a little cheering up.

But while it’s nice to think that simply eating something that reminds us of home can cure all of our problems, as Levitsky told NPR, “It’s actually a very weak psychological effect”. He then explains that while foods common during childhood may create a temporary sense of comfort and reassurance, this approach for a happier day is harmless–until it becomes a norm. This can lead to relying on your seasonal favorites to cope with bigger obstacles than your everyday undertakings.

Another published study from the Health Psychology supports the idea that foods associated with childhood have a temporary effect on the mind and mood of a person.  It also suggests that those who consume comfort foods are giving their meals too much credit. It states comfort food has gained a reputation for lifting your mood, despite the fact that Health Psychology’s research proved that while comfort food brought those who ate it somewhat of a lift in mood, it brought the consumers no more joy than any other food, despite the emotional connection to the past.

Although comfort foods don’t necessarily have a huge effect on a person’s mood, it can bring back sweet memories of their childhood. Eating comfort foods every once in awhile to cope with life’s little problems isn’t an issue. So, grab a bowl of your favorite comfort food, and enjoy!