There are times when we all feel low or lost, especially while we are away from friends and family. To some people this causes stress and they land in a depressive state of mind. Among several other things the thought of foods keep crossing the mind. Most likely the memories associated with evoking, reminding of something that you relished during childhood. And you savour it or perhaps just think about this food, a feeling of well-being consoles your mind, elevates mood and emotions. These food are known as comfort foods. Ms Edwina Raj, who is a Senior Dietitian at Aster CMI Hospital, Bangalore spoke to HZ and enlightened us more about the comfort food.
While the world around us is becoming more health-conscious with time, not every type of food is there to burn calories and do justice with your strict diets. At times, the brain and the body need to break from the monotony and demand something that’s just comforting. However, “comfort food provides a short-term gain and it can be detrimental in the long-term if indulged quite often which thereby contributes to abdominal fat deposition and related metabolic derangements such as diabetes, high triglyceride levels, weight gain, and the list goes on,” told Ms Edwina.
As they say, excessive of anything leads to a problem. When a certain habit is related to food, it is bound to take a toll on one’s body. “If this habitual behaviour is not addressed then this may predispose to an eating disorder which is a psychological issue,” said Ms Edwina. In fact, research suggested that food that you crave changes your eating behaviour and is likely to upset you if you abstain from them. When you eat certain food items, your gut reacts and sends a message to the brain by releasing neurochemicals that give you happiness and indulge in addiction.
“The most popular comfort food that we come across in our daily practice is preferred by hospitalised patients. Given the situation, their dose of comfort food would be associated with calorie-dense, sweet, salty/umami, texture varied like smooth, crispy, crunchy and soft. The ones which have topped among the list of comfort foods are potato variants, chocolates, ice-creams, smoothies, biryani, noodles, chaats, curd rice, bakery goods, Indian sweetmeat, etc,” told Ms Edwina.
In case, you start ingesting a lot of your favourite, memorable comfort food, Ms Edwina suggested a few ways to tackle and overcome craving towards it. All you need to do is find ways to alternate and swap these foods if they are high on harmful carbs and fats.
- Potato variants - Include skin of potato to add fiber, try purple potato if available.
- Ice-creams or chocolates - Sugar-free or dark chocolate with natural sweeteners. Great if you try taking nut-based bars.
- Chaats, bakery good - Try home-made dishes, made with multigrain or whole wheat to replace white flour and unhealthy oils.
- Smoothies- yummy and delicious to drink. Add fruits, nuts and minimise sugar. You can add jaggery or honey instead.
Senior Dietitian, Ms Edwina also recommended, “practicing regular physical activity” as it helps to release feel-good chemicals, improves your mental health, and reduces your stress levels. “Your mental wellbeing may not be just associated with food, thus it’s necessary to find ways to calm your mind down by speaking to someone close to you or listening to music, dancing, and practicing your hobby,” concluded Ms Edwina.
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