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What Makes a Comfort Food a Comfort Food?

A skillet is filled with baked macaroni and cheese.
Elena Veselova/Shutterstock.com

There’s nothing like getting home after a stressful day and indulging in a bowl of macaroni and cheese. Or smelling a warm pot of chicken soup cooking on the stove. Or dunking a few freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies in milk.

We all love comfort foods that make us feel cozy and safe, but have you ever thought about what really makes comfort food a comfort food? There are more reasons than you might think!

According to Dr. Shahram Heshmat who wrote about the phenomenon for Psychology Today comfort foods make us feel better on a variety of levels. You might associate certain foods with memories, family members, or even holidays. That “need to belong” impacts everyone, and certain foods can serve as a reminder of a time when you felt comfortable.

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On the same note, comfort food can also be nostalgic. Maybe a simple food from your childhood brings you great joy now. Maybe a dish your mother made when you were sick is something you still make for yourself today in order to feel better.

There has been some research to suggest that comfort foods can also slightly improve a negative mood. We all know the old stereotype of reaching for a pint of ice cream after a bad breakup, but there might be some truth to how good it makes you feel!

While there certainly are some emotional benefits to indulging in comfort foods once in a while, Dr. Heshmat recommends healthy eating as often as possible. A mixture of a healthy diet and the occasional comfort food indulgence can be good for the body and the soul!

Stacey Koziel Stacey Koziel
Stacey Koziel is a news writer at LifeSavvy. She's worked as a freelance writer for over ten years, focusing on family and lifestyle content. She also has a background in marketing and social media, and is always eager to talk (and write!) about the latest TikTok trends. Read Full Bio »
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