Good mood diet

By Katie Engell
March 5, 2009

There’s an undeniable reason why there is ice cream stored in the freezer, cake mix in the cabinet and potato chip crumbs scattered across student’s latest biology notes.

Food has the power to shape people’s mood and help them feel better when things just don’t seem to be going their way.

These comfort foods can vary from sweets to meats or simply anything our taste buds desire and they can be the perfect medicine for curing a stressful day.

“I’m a Spanish major and it’s, of course, a lot of work and it’s something that stresses me out all the time. I definitely turn to ice cream when I’m stressed, mint chocolate ice-cream especially. It actually really makes me feel better as weird as that sounds,” Peter Morrison, freshman Spanish major, said.

Not everyone starts their day, week or even year off perfectly and people deal with stress in a variety of different ways.

Some may go to the gym and work out their stress on the treadmill while others find comfort in taking a bite into a warm, freshly-baked brownie.

Comfort foods are not designed to be good for our health but they do supply us with a sense of pleasure and an escape from the stresses of the outside world.

“A comfort food makes us feel good by making us feel full. Hunger can make you feel anxious and fulfilling that hunger makes us feel better,” Cabrini nurse Sue Fitzgerald said. “It’s not good to eat bad foods in excess but there’s nothing wrong with eating food that produces good feelings.”

A comfort food, especially one high in carbohydrates or fats, is often more satisfying than other offerings.

“When I’m stressed and I don’t have a cigarette, you can find me with either a lollipop in my mouth or a soft pretzel with cheese in my hand,” Colleen McLaughlin, sophomore elementary education major, said. “It always makes me feel better and relieves my stress.”

A comfort food may also trigger positive memories from childhood meals. It’s the equivalent to a warm sweater, a favorite blanket or a hug from a family member.

Childhood memories bring comfort and for some, there may be no other way to experience this comfort without turning to their favorite foods while growing up.

“Many kids may associate chocolate chip cookies with feeling better because when they were younger their mom would bake them cookies,” Fitzgerald said.

While traveling far away from home, many people seek out ethnic or regional comfort food as a coping mechanism in an unfamiliar environment. Even those who have tasted dishes from around the world will return to the simple dishes and tastes of home.

Turning to fatty foods may not seem like the healthy choice during a stressful day but everyone can agree that comfort foods, not only satisfy our cravings, but relieve our minds.

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Katie Engell

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