Comfort Food Guilt?

When I’m stressed out, I reach for chocolate.  It’s my comfort food of choice.  Other favorites are tea with milk and sugar, and cookies.

My husband, on the other hand, reaches for salted nuts, pretzels, and potato chips.  This comfort food gender split is fairly typical, apparently.  In a Cornell University study in 2005 of 277 men and women, the researchers concluded that women’s source of edible comfort is in sweet and sugary foods, like ice cream, whereas men prefer savory food like steak and soup.*   Another interesting conclusion drawn from this study is that men seem to use comfort food as a reward, whereas women’s indulgence seems to provoke guilt.

This is certainly true for me.  But I’ve found a way to combat the guilt.

For chocolate, I eat a small piece nearly every day, often with my morning cup of tea.  That way I give myself a tiny bit of indulgence, which lasts all day long.  Other times, I save my piece of chocolate until the end of the day as a special treat.  I’d rather factor in that bit of indulgence into my overall calorie consumption and adjust accordingly by cutting back on bread or crackers!

As for my tea cravings, this also presented a problem, because I am sensitive to caffeine and simply don’t like the bland and boring decaffeinated teas on the market.   What’s worse is that my tea of choice is PG Tips, a rich, British black tea blend which is full-bodied and delicious, and heavy in caffeine.  But I solved that too after learning that most of the caffeine in tea is released in the first minute of steeping.  So, I pour an inch or so of boiling water into the teacup, swirl it around, pour it out, and then re-fill the cup with boiling water.  This little step eliminates most of the caffeine and I can happily drink 2 cups of tea without the jitters.

My question to you is–what is your comfort food of choice?  Do you feel guilty about indulging in it?  If so, how do you combat it?

(*Source:  Smith, Stephen W. “Comfort food psychology.” November 17, 2005.


4 replies »

  1. Pretzels, low fat Edys ice cream and/or almonds. Edna is on orders to keep them out of the house, this way i have look for an apple or some other unsatisfying fruit. However, when the kids are home from college….


  2. Clearly, with this global observation I feel vindicated!

    I guess these cravings of mine are universal and that just makes me feel great. Thanks for sharing such a fun piece (especially at a time of New Year’s weight resolutions).


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