What do you do on a typical weekend? Hang-out at a mall with a bunch of friends, eat out, watch a movie, drink and then have a hangover on Sunday morning. So you sleep the entire day only to order a box of pizza in the evening. And then, the weekend is over, the next morning you are in your office having Monday blues.
So what is your comfort food….Pizza? or Chinese at a fine dining restaurant in the mall? Ice cream…? Chocolates??
My comfort food is a steamy bowl of Chaawal (Boiled rice) and Daal (Boiled pulses with lots of veggies) with a table spoon of crackling pure home made ghee (butter). Yes, you read is right, 1 table spoon. So, on a typical weekend, I get up late in the day and make myself a cup of tea with a tinge of tulsi (India basil) leaves. I love the fragrance. I sit on the floor…dip roasted toasts to my tea…and read newspaper. This 20 minutes of morning quietness…is disturbed by a noisy bell and my maid enters. She dusts, cleans and washes in a jiffy and vanishes.
Am back to the serenity of me, mine and myself. I take a quick shower, say my prayers and then enter the kitchen. A peep into my fridge tells me that I have a bag full of frozen peas, a small cabbage, some carrots, half bottle gourd and a bunch of coriander leaves.
I chop a bowl full of veggies. In one pressure cooker, I quickly boil rice in 1 pressure cooker and in another one, I put half a cup of washed pulses, a bowl full of cut veggies, water, turmeric powder, a pinch of asafoetida, 1 teaspoon of garlic paste and finally salt to taste. A few whistles away I have my daal and chawal both ready. Finally, I splutter 1 tablespoon of ghee along with few seeds of cumin and put into my daal (pulses). I mix both in a large pink bowl and I am all set for weekend brunch.
I connect my laptop to my T.V. to watch a marathon of my favorite soaps. From Modern Family to How I met your mother to Revenge to Lost to F.R.I.E.N.D.S. I sit on my bean bag infront of my tele with a bowl of steamy daal and chawal. The lip smacking aroma of crackling homemade ghee is irresistible. My friends, this is my comfort food. Ofcourse, it takes some effort and is not fast food like a packet of noodles. But it is a quick and healthy option. Infact, it is a healthy comfort food and I lick the bowl clean each time. This is my standard weekend brunch. There are only minor additions to this. Like a bowl of coriander and cucumber raita or aam ka aachar or papad…etc.etc.
Comfort food is also known as Mood Food. Denise Mann, reports that comfort food or Mood food is associated with emotional eating and it is a coping mechanism to deal with intense feelings, stress, or depressed moods. This type of binge eating increases a person’s chance of obesity. In his article, he quotes, Journal of Clinical Investigation, which reported the following study on Comfort food:
The findings about comfort food suggest that there is an interplay among emotions, hunger, food intake and meal-induced sensations in general which may have important implications for a wide range of disorders including obesity, eating disorders, and depression.
I believe, that binge eating or comfort food is a very important part of our lives. Today, most of us stay away from our home, living in a city where we were not brought up. On weekends, when we finally get a break from the 5 days rush, we get time to think, breathe and miss home, miss our “maa” and her magical touch to our food. We miss the pampering, the love and the comfort of our home. Hence, we indulge ourselves in many things including eating. However, it is not healthy for us. In the study mentioned above, it was reported that the most comfort foods have high level of fatty acids which is not good for us in the long run.
Ice cream, chocolate, friend chicken, finger fries and cheese burger are the most popular comfort foods. Ice cream and chocolate being the favorite among women.
In yet another study, publishes in 2005, comfort foods have been classified into four categories: nostalgic foods, indulgence foods, convenience foods, and physical comfort foods. It was described as to how particular food objects come to be associated with the relief of distress and show how food objects are manipulated to modify or change emotional states or feelings. The study on comfort food extends to understanding the role that mood plays in food selection and considering the use of comfort foods under certain circumstances, such as when individuals are experiencing illness.
Mahatma Gandhi once said that “There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” However, binge eating is not about hunger and hence, making it healthy will let you continue it in the long run because you will never find your mom’s magical touch in ice cream, fries or cheese burgers.