More Comfort Food

by Jeanne

Surprised at the response to my macaroni and cheese post I became curious about comfort food.  A recent study has found that gender, age and of course culture influence our choices.

The study sponsored by Cornell and McGill Universities, found that women and men choose comfort foods for differing reasons.  Women decide based on emotional needs and men based on level of happiness. Men tend to choose protein-rich foods such as steak and women prefer sweets such as cookies and ice cream.  This makes some sense if you think of the fact that  proteins tend to elevate your satisfaction (i.e. happiness) level.  Sweets, such as chocolate tend to ‘make you feel good.’  It might also suggest that woman associate comfort foods with such negative emotions as guilt and men with the positiveness of reward.

The study, a collaboration between New York’s Cornell University and Canada’s McGill University, revealed that women indulge in comfort foods to boost their emotions when they are down, whereas men are more likely to opt for them when they are happy.  Jordan LeBel, co-author of the study and associate professor at Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration states, "In the past comfort food was considered primarily as a strategy to alleviate stress, sadness and other negative emotions. Ensuring emotional well-being is still the goal, but pleasure and positive emotions can also determine food choice, especially in men."

Another study found that if we are constantly stressed we tend to crave comfort foods more frequently.  In a way comfort foods act as a support to your system. So what’s should one do?  It’s making this gal stressed and guilt-ridden.  Experts suggest that we think of other ways to treat chronic stress – exercise, yoga, meditation and long hot baths all stimulate and activate regions of the brain that are associated with pleasure. And this quack suggests that if all else fails anything in moderation is sometimes the medicine that you need.  And I’m not done with this curiosity just yet! To be continued…

Advertisements