Comfort Food Favorites
We all know comfort foods give us temporary pleasure and make us feel better when we eat them. For some people, that might be a high-fat food like a heavy but delicious mashed potato with extra butter. For others, that might be baked brussel sprouts heavy on the prosciutto and the Parmesan cheese. For some, it could be a dessert.
No matter the food, comfort food favorites make you feel good. They increase positive feelings, reduce tension, activate the reward center in your brain, and are an excellent form of self-medication if you are in a bad mood of any kind.
Scientific evidence shows us that people who crave comfort foods have a lot of positive relationships in their past and present. So, if you give in to those cravings you should recognize how lucky you are to have them.
It’s perfectly normal to associate certain foods with holidays, like the quintessential Thanksgiving side dishes that you associate with holiday dinners, or food that you associate with those who take care of you, social gatherings, family members or good friends.
- If you are feeling a little lonely, you might crave foods like Wood Roasted Harissa Half Chicken to give you security and comfort, or to remind you of the chicken dinners you had every Thursday night back home.
- If you and your work colleagues are feeling a bit nostalgic, missing an old employee who retired, try some Penne Giardiniera to remind you of the monthly work birthday luncheons at a nearby Italian restaurant.
- If you and your spouse are missing the times when you were first dating, comfort food like Baked Truffle Mac & Cheese could call to mind memories of the first meal you tried to make together: a truffle mac and cheese, heavy on the cheese.
All of these comfort foods offer a very secure attachment and bring with them a sense of emotional belonging.
When you are in the middle of a vacation, surrounded by new and exciting things, being away from home might bring with it a little bit of stress or isolation, but having comfort foods at a local restaurant can serve as a positive reminder of good friends or family.
We often celebrate special events with rich foods, but that indulgence shouldn’t be frowned upon in the short term, especially for such celebrations. Relax in the comfortable, dark setting of rich woods, smokey bourbons, and great food.
Certain foods bring with them a beneficial level of nostalgia. The smell of food can bring with it very detailed emotional memories, and science shows that this strong link between emotional memory and smell predisposes us to enjoy particular foods. The smell of steak might evoke positive memories of family camping trips in the summer, so booking your table at Bull & Bourbon and ordering an aged steak could legitimately improve your mood and evoke positive feelings of social connection with those around you.
Calming the Mind
What many people don’t realize is that the ingredients in comfort foods serve a biological purpose. When we are stressed or overwhelmed, we crave comfort foods because the sugars, fats, and salts help to calm down the central nervous system when it is overloaded. This overload is what happens when we are stressed with work, with the house, with family, or anything in between.
So do yourself a favor, next time you feel overwhelmed, let yourself enjoy a guilt-free evening at Bull and Bourbon with a heart (and mind) warming dish like the French Onion Soup.