Whether it's a hot piece of sourdough bread, a tasty grandma's beef stew, or a freshly baked pastry, there are certain foods that just make you feel warm and hazy.
These so-called comfort foods fill our stomachs and our souls - although these aren't always the healthiest choices.
There's no denying that comfort food makes us feel good. But is there a scientific reason for this satisfaction, or is it all in our head?
And are there healthier ways to satisfy those cravings for comfort food? Here's what you need to know.
What is comfort food?
Comfort food is any food that provides a feeling of well-being, nostalgia or comfort.
Culture, education, eating habits, and past experiences can all shape what a person looks for comfort food.
One person may be drawn to sweets like ice cream, while another may crave something tasty like pizza.
"The idea of 'comfort food' really varies from person to person," says Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD and owner of BZ Nutrition. “The truth about comfort food is that it has nothing to do with real food, and everything to do with our association with food.
How do comfort foods provide comfort?
"Typical comfort foods meet a few needs," says Amy goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, registered dietitian and specialist in sports dietetics.
First, there's the basic pleasure factor: Research suggests that the smell of food can activate the area of the brain that releases dopamine, the body's wellness neurotransmitter.
But comfort food also has a strong emotional element.
Goodson says that these foods "generally comfort us because they have a nostalgic component and connect us to something familiar or positive."
It is a form of classic packaging.
Foods that we associate with a positive or comforting memory can trigger that same feeling of comfort every time we eat them, be it chicken noodle soup your mom always made when you were sick or the chocolate cake you asked for every year for your birthday.
Do Comfort Foods Really Make You Feel Better?
You might feel better after eating a favorite comfort food, but it's probably not the food itself that comforts you.
“Comfort food gives a false sense of comfort and is primarily a mental reaction,” says Zeitlin. “That doesn't mean you don't like food and it doesn't taste good - they do! But reaching them "for comfort" is based on your feelings and your relationship with them. "
Comfort Foods may not even be as comforting as we think.
In one 2014 study, participants watched a movie that triggered a negative emotional reaction. They were then served the comfort food of their choice, neutral food or no food at all.
The researchers found that "comfort foods led to significant improvements in mood, but no more than other foods or no food."
And if emotional eating prompts you to look for comfort foods, be aware that the mood uplift will likely be temporary.
After you've finished that favorite comfort food, Zeitlin says, you still have to deal with any emotions, stressors, anger, or frustration that made you dive headfirst into this dish in the first place.
Is Comfort Food Unhealthy?
But comfort food often lands on the less healthy side of the spectrum.
“Usually people crave crisps and queso on broccoli and chocolate cake on Greek yogurt,” says Goodson.
And if you overdo it with these foods, it can negate the mood boost.
“Ultimately, it wears off quickly and we feel exactly as before - sometimes even worse, because we can feel overloaded, bloated or regretted,” Zeitlin says.
That said, it's okay to indulge in a favorite comfort food - in moderation, of course. But do it because you enjoy the food, not to assuage feelings of sadness, anxiety, stress, or frustration.
“Instead, eat your treats when you really want them, not when you're in your feelings,” Zeitlin says. “Food will taste so much better when you savor and enjoy it, instead of using it to avoid something difficult.”
Try these healthy comfort food swaps
Nutritional exchange abounds, so it's usually possible to reduce the amount of calories, sugar, or fat in the comfort food of your choice.
Here are some ways to make comfort food healthier:
But sometimes it's better to just enjoy a small portion comfort food you crave rather than eating 10 servings of the healthier version in an attempt to satisfy that craving, says Goodson.
You can also find a new comfort food by creating a positive association with a healthy recipe or snack.
For example, if you sipping Shakeology after you complete a workout you will begin to associate the shake with that sense of accomplishment.
Or add some comfort food inspired recipes to prepare your meals and discover your new favorite homemade dinner.
Going to the gym is a great habit. But when life gets in the way, sometimes you just can’t make it there. That’s why it’s important to have a home sport room. A indispensable for anyone serious about staying fit, a home gym lets you get your workout in without ever needing to leave the house.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE GREATEST BENEFITS OF HAVING A HOME FITNESS ROOM :
1. HOME GYMS MAKE IT EASIER TO STICK TO YOUR FITNESS ROUTINE.
According to the etats du nord de l'amérique Department of Health and Human Services, every week, adults should get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, or 1 hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous exercise—or a blend of the two. The HHS also recommends that you spread your workouts throughout the week and include muscle-building workouts at least twice a week.
Sticking to an exercise routine is easier said than done. But with a home sport room, you can get the workouts you need all from the convenience of your own home. Using private equipment, you get to avoid the traffic that comes with the gym commute, skip the lines for workout equipment, and exercise on your own time. With your home gym, if you exercise any time you have 30 minutes to kill, you’ll get your 2. 5 hours in before the weekend with time to spare.
2. A HOME GYM LETS YOU AVOID BAD WEATHER.
Bad weather is one of the most common reasons that people break their workout surveillance. Although it might seem like an excuse, oftentimes it’s a legitimate safety concern. There are almost 6 million car crashes annually, and 21 percent are weather-related. About percent of weather-related car accidents happen on wet pavement, and another 18 percent occur during snow and sleet storms. Every year, almost 5, 000 people die in these crashes.
When you have a home fitness room, you don’t need to worry about the commute to the gym and can exercise from the comfort and safety of your own home. Having a home gym doesn’t just help you stay fit; it can also save your life.
3. HOME GYMS LET YOU EXERCISE IN PRIVATE.
We know that exercise helps to relieve stress and anxiety. But what if going to the gym makes you feel so nervous and intimidated that you don’t get the exercise you need ? You can end up in a vicious cycle of anxiety because you’re worried about people judging you. If this sounds like your experience, you’re not alone. Almost 65 percent of women and 36 percent of men avoid going to the gym because they’re afraid of what other people might think. People mostly fear judgment about their weight, but there are many other reported fears, such as :
Using equipment incorrectlyDoing exercises wrongWearing the “wrong” clothesNot looking or being athletic enoughLooking awkward while exercising
But when exercising in your home gym, you won’t have to worry about any of these things. You can wear whatever you please, huff and puff as loud as you want, and watch the dorkiest Netflix shows while you work out and no one will judge you … except maybe your family.
4. A HOME GYM LETS EVERYONE IN THE HOUSE GET THEIR EXERCISE.
Speaking of your family, when was the last time they worked out ? All members of your household – kids, teens, adults, plus de 50 ans – need an age-appropriate amount of exercise. We’ve already talked about exercise for the average adult, but what about exercise for younger or older family members ?
The World Health Organization says that young people ages 5 to 17 should engage in at least 1 heure of physical activity at moderate to vigorous intensity. The majority of their workouts should be aerobic, with bone-loading and muscle-strengthening exercises added several times per week. Ideally, older adults should get the same amount of exercise as their younger counterparts. Folks who aren’t able to reach those minimums—150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise – should progressively do as much as they can. Even older adults with limited mobility should be réactive at least three days per week to prevent falls.
As difficult as it is to get yourself to the gym, it’s even harder to get your kids or older relatives there. With a home fitness room, you can be sure that the people under your care are exercising as much as they should.
5. YOU CAN DESIGN YOUR HOME GYM ANY WAY YOU WANT.
At the gym, your workout is limited by the gym owner’s equipment. Maybe that equipment works for you, but maybe it doesn’t.
Luckily, you can style your home sport room any way you want. Do you want a rower ? Get one. Do you like a particular kind of treadmill or brand of elliptical ? Done. Do you have a spouse or friend you would like to work out with ? Get two of something. When the gym is in your home, you get to decide what goes in the space.
The possibilities are endless ! But don’t feel intimidated by your possibilités. If you aren’t sure how to start building your home fitness room, there are professional sport consultants who can look at your home space, listen to your workout needs, and help you design a personalized home gym. And, the best part ? Home consultations are free at G
Ready to Get Started ? At G