A More Positive View of Comfort Food
Justifiably so it must be said, the phrase “comfort eating” or “comfort food” has had some rather negative connotations surrounding its use in explaining psychological concepts mainly, but that’s not how it always has to be. In fact the negative effects associated with something like comfort eating are only as a result of overdoing things and seeking to fill a void created in one area of one’s life with another one.
Why food makes people happier
As part of the study of biology, the various functions of the body may be separated and isolated in their association with specific body parts, hormones, organs, etc, which is fair enough, except that’s where this isolation should end. It should only be for classification and clarification processes, and it should perhaps only be for the official and academic study of subjects like biology.
Otherwise each part of the body which is identified to be responsible for a specific function does not function in isolation. Yes, your lungs are the organs with which you breathe, aren’t they, but would you be able to breathe if you only had lungs and you didn’t have a network of veins to carry the oxygenated blood your heart pumps, all around your body? Your stomach digests the food you eat, but would you be able to extract those nutrients through the inner tissue lining of your stomach if you didn’t have a mouth to throw the food into, teeth to chew that food and saliva to begin the process of breaking it down so that your stomach (and in actual fact your intestines) can actually absorb it?
That little biology lesson was every bit as necessary to bring to light how the process of food making you feel happier works. It’s a simple matter of association. It’s not necessarily the food itself which makes you happy, but your body’s reaction to your filling of a need it has.
If you’re sad for example and you ate something which pleases your taste buds, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the food you ate which makes you happy. You’re merely substituting your need for happiness with the filling of another need and this is when and how comfort eating manifests in its negative sense.
The right way to appreciate good food
Switch things around however, starting with your view on what comfort eating is, and you’ll learn how to enjoy and appreciate good food the right way – the way Mother Nature intended it to be enjoyed.
Food brings us together, which is why traditions such as sitting down to eat dinner at the table exist. Food also acts as the life-sustaining fuel we need for pretty much every last one of our bodily functions, so it should never make for a source of guilt. Ensuring this starts with a focus on healthy eating, which doesn’t mean you have to eat food that tastes like cardboard and starve yourself of the good stuff, but rather that you just need to exercise moderation in your indulgences.
Yes, something sweet like chocolate can make for a direct mood-lifting food, but you should never depend on chocolate to lift your mood as a permanent solution. Rather seek to address the root cause of your problem and, of course, enjoy the food you have access to in the process as well.