Ever Wonder Why They Are Called “Comfort Foods”?

The Lempert Report
February 22, 2018

It’s not rocket science.

According to the American Psychological Association, thirty-eight percent of adults report that they have overeaten or eaten unhealthy foods in the past month because of stress. And as we reported in our 2018 Trends Forecast, Americans are more stressed out than ever before.

A new study conducted by researchers at The University of the South in Tennessee and  The State University of New York at Buffalo and published in Appetite entitled Threatened belonging and preference for comfort food among the securely attached sheds some lightonwhy exactly these comfort foods are so comforting. The researchers found that there is a “social” component to foods that provide us comfort: “A food is comforting because of the memories they evoke, and the emotions and relationships that we associate with them. If your grandmother served you chocolate chip cookies as a child that may be why you make a pit stop at the bakery on your way home if you had a stressful day”.

Ranker, the website on which you can vote on just about everything, just published their findings on their survey The Most Comforting Comfort Food” to find out which foods top the list, number one – no surprise was chocolate which we could agree with based on the nutritional and emotional proven benefits. But number two? That was grilled cheese!

“Comfort foods are often the foods that our caregivers gave us when we were children. As long we have positive association with the person who made that food then there’s a good chance that you will be drawn to that food during times of rejection or isolation,” says Shira Gabriel, psychologist at the University of Buffalo and co-author of the study. “The study helps us understand why we might be eating comfort foods even when we’re dieting or not particularly hungry.” 

So for retailers that are located in areas that employ high stress jobs, they may well be suited to create a “comfort café” at the front of the store where people can stop to enjoy these foods or take them home rather than having to navigate the aisles searching for their favorites, and adding even more stress to their over-stressed lives.