This evening I cooked dinner for a friend and her family in need of comfort. I thought quite a bit about what to cook. In some ways I am completely opposed to this idea of comfort food unless of course the ailment that needs comforting is hunger. Often foods that we turn to for comfort may help us–momentarily distract, but in the long run leave us feeling badly.
Part of the problem with our eating habits is that we have attached the cure of human emotions to foods. The same is true when we use food as a reward. I am not referring to sitting down to a nice meal after a job well done or many calories burned, more about eating an ice cream sundae instead of a single scoop because of a feeling that "I deserve this."
When we are grieving we are outside of ourselves and our sense of self can be lost hence the tendency to not take care of ourselves by over or under eating. In those times a good solid healthy meal can work wonders towards healing both body and mind.
Having someone reach out and prepare a meal for you can be nurturing both nutritionally and emotionally. When my father was sick a chef who was a friend of my mothers prepared us a batch of tapioca pudding. None of us were eating very well and the gesture of the delicious and nurturing pudding helped provide much needed nutrition and simultaneously lifted our spirits. To this day I do not know if the pudding was particularly good but I remember it as one of the most memorable and delicious things I have ever tasted. I know that at different times in my live my senses have been heightened or dulled... the tapioca was important at the time.
In any case I would like to propose a new comfort food, one that takes into account hunger, ingredients and the physical needs and tastes of a particular situation.