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All That We Need To Know About Comfort Food

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Food and its sentiments have been celebrated, exaggerated and they’ve also lead to the coining of a term called ‘Comfort Food’. Many prefer to ‘Eat for a life’ but foodies ‘Live to Eat’. We need to have a mention of our grandmothers at this juncture and their extreme sense of hospitality. Whenever we headed to their homes for vacations, they would ensure to enquire about our eating habits. The moment they figured out that we weren’t eating healthy as they would’ve desired, they would retreat to their kitchens to prepare a feast! Sentiments apart, human beings depend on certain foods for certain moods and in most cases we seem to depend upon high carbohydrate based foods to improve our mood. There is also the purported notion to consume beverages like coffee and tea to stimulate our dull minds. Does the mood of a person mandate the preference of certain type of foods? Is our health at stake for preference of a particular food type in co-relation with the mood? This article tries to seek answers for the above mentioned questions and although we won’t be trying to bust myths, we shall try to come to terms with clarity.

Food that is coupled with sentiment and nostalgia come under the category of ‘Comfort Food’. Hence a certain type of food that provides high nostalgic and sentimental value to a consumer is typically characterised by the presence of high carbohydrate level, high caloric nature and often involves simple preparation. They are usually consumed in order to relieve oneself from negative feeling. The nostalgia may be specific to either the individual or a specific nature. There are both vegetarian and non-vegetarian variants of comfort food. The typical examples of comfort food are French Fries, Pastries and Baked Beans and Chicken Fried Steak. Indian examples of Comfort snacks may be Samosa, Aloobhuija, Paranthas, and Pakoras. As mentioned earlier the prime aim of comfort snack is to pique good emotions and to get rid of the blues. We’ve typically relished on the above mentioned examples to soothe our minds and hence it is proven that certain types of food have sentimental value attached to it. These are also the items that are part of our mother’s and Grandmother’s recipes and hence we also incur a sense of nostalgia. Comfort food comforts but is it healthy? We are bound to raise this question and surprisingly enough, there is an element of health associated with comfort food. Sarah Stanner of the British Nutrition Foundation says that our bodies have the ability to convert carbohydrates into Serotonin which is considered a natural mood stabilizer. This finding reveals that comfort food improves the state of mental well-being but does the human body benefit out of consumption of comfort food? Let us take the example of Chocolate- arguably the most popular comfort food in the world (Don’t be surprised with the classification of chocolate as comfort food) to provide answer relating to health. Chocolate appeals to all age groups but we’re always warned to not consume it in excess. Unlike most saturates, chocolate contains a saturate known as Stearic acid which does not raise cholesterol levels. In addition, Chocolate is rich in iron needed to make red blood cells and magnesium- essential for bone health. Sarah Stanner goes on to explain that chocolate contains high levels of polyphenols- compounds found in plant-based foods which act as antioxidants and help protect against serious disease like cancer. Sounds convincing! Isn’t it? Stereotypical parents can read this information regarding chocolates before they completely think of shunning chocolate from their kid’s meal.

The food that has emotional association seems to be somewhat health-friendly and this makes it assuring to consume them without worrying about the after-effects. Sensible human beings although would not consume them in excess and would provide utmost importance to a ‘Balanced diet’.

Carbohydrate Craving

‘Serotonin’ the mood regulator hormone and is part of a protein from the diet called tryptophan. Carbohydrate rich food consumption increases the secretion of the particular hormone and this hormone isn’t only associated with the regulation of mood but is also involved in functions like sleep onset, blood pressure regulation and pain sensitivity. When people feel the improvement of mood is bolstered by the intake of carbohydrate rich foods, they tend to over-eat foods of that kind and this has far reaching consequences. Increased weight gain is one undesirable effect of such practice of countering mood swings. This syndrome or phenomenon is called as ‘Carbohydrate Craving’. Although we’ve discussed about the benefits of comfort food and its role in improving emotions, there isn’t substantial claim to support the role of high carbohydrate based food in mood regulation. However, a diet without adequate intake of carbohydrates results in low moods.

Warning: Contains Caffeine

There is adequate awareness about the effects of caffeine –the drug’s consumption. Some of us prefer to consume caffeine to improve alertness and to stimulate the mind while some ‘caffeine addicts’ depend upon coffee as their ‘elixir’ to improve mood. Indeed, there is an improvement in alertness exhibited by the consumption of caffeine but solely relying on caffeine to counter negative emotions or to calm the mind has adverse effects like irritability and headache. Generally, it is advisable to avoid consumption of caffeine during the night as sleep gets affected and personally I’ve encountered this experience many times.

We’ve traversed many topics and we’ve spent considerable amount of time analysing the relation between mood and food. The best example given to a type of food that related mood with it is termed as ‘Comfort Food’ and we were surprised to find the healthy aspect of comfort food. It is almost impossible to think of anyone who isn’t interested in food (whether or not they eat regularly) and food’s consumption is a straight-forward process and is explained as ‘Tummy needs matter and we consume matter’. Nostalgia and sentiments are important but the concept of ‘balanced diet’ should never lose its significance. There is no harm in devouring certain types of foods in order to feel happy but as the mood improves, physical health should also improve. Team Snackexperts blends the prefect mix of sentiment and health in our products and although we wouldn’t classify our snacks as ‘comfort food’, we hope that you are comforted while consuming our products!

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