The healing power of comfort food

Just making our way through the world takes such a colossal effort, taxing our physical and emotional systems, and requiring adequate caloric intake. This becomes more essential when we’ve experienced a loss, disappointment, heartbreak, or even just a particularly bad day. To survive the turbulent adventures of life, we humans historically turned to food to mend the body and the soul. We have created so-called carbohydrate bombs that provide us with nostalgia and the ability to heal the wounds of the heart: comfort food.

Cancino pizza confort food
Photo: Cancino

A feast of memories

This concept has existed throughout cultures and history, but the term dates back to the 1960s, when an article was published in the Palm Beach Post that linked emotional stress and the search for comfort through high-calorie foods, usually dishes that took people back to their childhoods. Later, in the 2000s, this notion became popular and it was the British chef Jaime Oliver, who said that comfort food “celebrates nostalgic memories, traditions and childhood favourites…..This is about good mood food that will put a massive smile on your face.” Nowadays, it has become so popular that a restaurant genre has even emerged serving only comfort food.

Chilaquiles Eno comfort food
Photo: Eno

A source of comforting feelings

While everybody brings their own tastes and associated feelings to what they consider comfort food, the main characteristics are that it is high in carbohydrates or sugars, easy to prepare, and has a relation to some comforting feeling or memory. Hence, for some, chicken broth like mom used to make is an essential comfort to curl up with on a cold day, while for someone else it’s that cinnamon tea with milk and sugar that their grandmother used to prepare for them.

té comfort food
Photo: ©masyusha via

Healing a broken heart

Anyone who has walked this earth will know the pain of heartbreak, whether from romantic love or otherwise. And one of the surest ways to nurture ourselves comes through calories. How lucky we are to live in an age where they are so abundant – ice cream, cakes, chocolates, milkshakes, cookies, and a thousand other possibilities. Let’s give thanks to all of them for helping us heal our hearts and providing us with the necessary energy to love again.

Photo: ©czarny_bez via

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