Not many things are as comforting as your favorite comfort foods. Did you have a bad day? Is the weather a mess? Are your bones a bit cold? Homesick? Whatever the issue may be, there is sure to be a meal you have in mind to get those warm fuzzies you’re looking for.
Where the Term “Comfort Food” Comes From
The origin of the term comes from as far back as the 1960s where it was used to describe the emotional connection food adults have with foods from their childhood. While this definition is more psychology, the term has come to feel like a haven itself.
Comfort foods can be warm and heavy. But the real warmth they bring is in the nostalgic connection to past memories and friends or family members.
The Nutritional Value of Comfort Food
Comfort foods are stereotypically comprised of fatty, high-caloric or starchy foods, but in reality, the nutritional value of comfort food will vary from person to person. Many of these cross boundaries from person to person, but because their basis is in the individual experiences we have each had, healthy meals can likewise be considered comfort foods to some people.
This suggests that perhaps the parents of the current working class typically cooked and baked more of these heavy foods that would provide their children with plenty of energy and nourishment. However, with individuals who turn to comfort food as a coping mechanism, these foods could potentially be causing harm.
The Psychological Aspect
Though we may love our comfort foods and want to pass them on to our children, we need to carefully consider how these favorite foods could be combined with positive or negative habits and tendencies in the future.
Even with healthy comfort foods, a child could learn to depend on food to cope with stress and depression. They rely on this rather than being taught healthy coping skills. In turn, they can still suffer from the effects of imbalanced nutrition. Likewise, their possibly ineffective coping mechanisms can prolong their discomfort rather than helping them to overcome it and move forward.
Transforming the Comfort Foods You Love
For those who love their comfort foods but also want to turn some of those high-calorie meals into something better designed to provide good energy, here are some quick ideas you can build on using your own family recipes.
Don’t we all love breakfast for dinner? Let’s add some veggies like tomato, pepper, and onion to our omelets and complement those waffles with some peanut butter and strawberries.
No one wants to turn down a good burger! Trade out the classic hamburger bun for something unprocessed and made from whole grains. You can shop for leaner ground beef, too.
Spuds are an amazing staple food that can be decently cheap as well. Grab a bag of Klondike Brands’ healthy potatoes and keep the fixings simple with Greek yogurt substituted for sour cream, lean proteins, and lots of tasty veggies.
- Macaroni and Cheese
Everyone in the family loves mac and cheese! Dress it up with veggies they’ll love, too, like broccoli and carrots. You can also substitute liquids like rice milk and chicken broth to make it a bit lighter. You can do the same with your favorite soups!