Why Do Comfort Foods Make Us Feel So Uncomfortable?
As the holidays approach, it is a constant battle for moms to balance preparing healthy foods for their families and providing fun, comfort foods that are special. Why are these two food categories at odds?
Comfort food = buttery, sugary, chocolatey, rich, cheesy, and yummy. Healthy food = dry, grainy, unflavorful, bitter, cold, raw, yucky.
Is that really how it has to be? I know that I am always battling in my mind when I make a meal: Do I make a veggie and quinoa salad as a side dish or Grandma’s amazing scalloped potatoes? The first is good for you and tastes OK, but the second is rich, creamy, delicious and takes me back to when I was a child and the world was safe, fun, simple and warm. Now that’s comfort!
This internal battle in my head is even more noticeable at Christmas and especially more prominent now that we have a son with Crohn’s. I just can’t serve that cookie without a pang of guilt. And if I serve the rich, yummy stuff, I feel badly that I am not giving my family the best food for their bodies (even if they LOVE it!).
But look at the comparison again. It isn’t just the taste that makes comfort food so comfortable. It’s the feeling it gives us. It brings us back to our childhood – a time when we didn’t have responsibilities, when we didn’t have to worry if things were good for us or not. (That was Mom’s job!)
Comfort food is not necessarily unhealthy food…it’s the yummy food we were served when we were kids, during a time in our lives when we were free to just trust what was served to us. No worries. No responsibilities. Comfort.
So maybe if I focus on providing delicious food that is also healthful, then my kids will equate those foods with the comfort of being home, being safe.
That is what I’m going to be searching for in foods: delicious, warm, and fun. Is that too much to ask? Am I going for the proverbial wanting of my cake and eating it too?
Yes, I am.
But I am determined to find a cake that will be good for us, too.