The importance of comfort food
Often when food is eaten, it is not just for the nutritional content or to satisfy hunger, but also for psychological reasons.
For many of us, comfort eating is a way in which we deal with anxiety, stress or boredom. Comfort food gives rise to a psychologically comfortable and pleasurable state when they are eaten.
We spoke to health expert Maria Ascencao about the importance of comfort food when it comes to our emotional stability.
Ascencao said that because the brain is always working, our body needs nutritious food filled with vitamins and nutrients to fuel the brain and help boost brain health. She said that the food we eat may greatly affect our mood, energy and the brain’s performance.
“Comfort eating is a way to deal with stress or loneliness and often includes sugary, salty, highly processed or unhealthy foods such as chocolate, potato chips, soda or even heavy steak or casserole dishes.
"Comfort eating generally depends on the gender, weight, psychological issues or emotional state of the person. Eating comfort food in moderation is not a problem but it's best to choose nutritious healthy foods which will help improve mood.
"Follow a diet rich in fruit, green leafy vegetables, lean protein, beans, legumes, nuts seeds, cold-pressed olive oil, avocado and fatty fish. The more balanced and healthy your diet, the more balanced your brain will function,” said Ascencao.
Ascencao suggests you try the following.
- Be mindful about what you put into and how you treat your body, and where you focus your thoughts and energy.
- Prepare for low-energy or stressful days to avoid unhealthy snacking and avoid stimulants such as caffeine, cigarettes and alcohol.
- Avoid foods such as pasta, bread, potatoes and white rice especially if you struggle with low mood and energy levels.
- Give your body some time to adjust to a new routine and new foods.
- Get good restorative sleep every night - take naps if you need to during the day.
- Manage stress and exercise regularly - a sedentary lifestyle may lead to unhealthy eating, weight gain and negative thoughts.