Why Do We Crave Comfort Foods So Much?

Food is universal! We all need to eat, and every culture has its own special dishes that are prepared for holidays and other important occasions. Every culture has its own comfort foods, too.

Comfort foods are not usually associated with health foods. For example in the United States, the most common comfort food is macaroni and cheese, Fitday.com reports.

The Urban Dictionary describes comfort food as “food that gives emotional comfort to the one eating it, these tend to be favorite foods of childhood, or linked to a person, place or time with which the food has a positive association.”

It's amazing that comfort foods can bring those memories of happiness during difficult or stressful times. The happy times we have around the table with friends and family help to create our own special set of comfort foods.

Since we are just entering into the Thanksgiving and holiday season, many of us will be looking forward eating our favorite comfort foods.

For any of us that have health issues that can be managed by dietary changes, comfort foods can be a challenge any time. Dealing with comfort foods can be especially difficult during the holiday season when so many of them will be displayed prominently at parties, gatherings, receptions and other festivities.

Chronic conditions like diabetes, prediabetes, heart diseases, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer and obesity can all be managed, or risks reduced, by changing dietary behaviors. Being faced with unhealthy but delicious taste treats can be a problem for those trying to avoid their comfort foods or overeating in general.

Why are these foods so hard to resist?

There is new science explaining why we crave comfort foods. According to Time.com, “Researchers suggest that when we associate foods with happy memories, the effects are profound, impacting how good we think foods taste as well as how good those foods make us feel.”

Comfort foods are more than about just the taste of the food. They are about the memories that make us feel good so that when we eat those foods it makes us feel good.

So these same comfort foods that we look forward to during the holidays are foods we might be tempted by when we are feeling lonely.

Comfort food can be a problem not only during the holiday season, but any time someone is feeling lonely, alone, or even stressed. These foods are often used to make us feel special, so in times when we are alone or very stressed, such food can be a mechanism to feel better.

While comfort foods can make us feel good, they can also make the bodies of people with chronic illnesses feel bad. We have to be careful not to use comfort foods as a stress management tool or as a friend when we are feeling lonely.

Comfort foods may seem great, but comfort friends are better. If you are feeling lonely, consider talking to your friends and family instead of getting another helping of mac and cheese.

Enjoy your holiday season!

Live Vibrantly!