What is comfort food? Google says it is food that provides consolation or a feeling of wellbeing. It often has a high sugar content and is associated with home cooking. Comfort foods are usually made with simple ingredient and often high in carbohydrates. Southern living lists Mac and Cheese, fried chicken, creamy mushroom grits, biscuits, and caramel cake. Wikipedia says it is nostalgic and high in carbohydrates and again simple to prepare.
I cry foul! I’m going to say that those foods listed above and the many that I hear about taking care of my patients that have fallen from nutritional grace are high fat, high salt as well as high sugar. Many have cheese which is the deadly combination of fat and salt. Most have nothing to do with time spent with grandma. I would venture most agree that they know the food is nutritionally horrible and the only thing comforting is the justification that it is comforting.
So why do we do it? We almost always certainly regret it. It is our “only vice” at least the only one that we share freely mainly because we are sure others have a similar one. So why don’t we make a pack to all stop together?
Comfort foods are killing millions of people each year. They are legal and no one is offended. There are no marches against comfort foods. If you make a really salty, oily, sugary one you can get your own cooking show. You may even get hundreds of Facebook likes.
So let’s be clear that “comfort food” is unhealthy food that has nothing to do with achieving optimal health and wellness. It derails progress towards health and ignites cravings for salt, oil, and sugar. Marketing companies even list them as comfort foods to attract more sales. But the list continue to grow and includes any unhealthy item that one needs a justification for choosing. It is a choice that is often made without much thought and the pleasure is extremely short lived. To avoid these ever present temptations remind yourself of your health goals. Perhaps redefine what your comfort foods are and in some cases there are healthy substitutions that are quite satisfying especially when the new choices have the additional benefit of being in line with your long term health goals.