Fun with Words – Comfort Food


LaCrosseWisconsin.com – So is it called a casserole or a hot dish? And since we are getting in to the fall season soon, what is your favorite comfort food or favorite recipe?

I saw this question posed on “facebook”, and had little idea of what was meant by Comfort Food. I did some research.

(from Wiki) The term “comfort food” (first used, according to Webster’s Dictionary, in 1977) refers to foods consumed to achieve some level of improved emotional status, whether to relieve negative psychological affect or to increase positive. More generally, comfort food can be defined as food that brings some form or measure of comfort, sense of well-being, or easy satisfaction. Such food choices may consist of simple and familiar. Dishes may be warm and filling such as a dish made with a staple food, or basically pleasing such as sweets or desserts.

From Answers.com

Only in the last decade of the twentieth century, however, did the notion of comfort food as a unique concept become part of the vernacular of everyday life. Julie L. Locher and colleagues have observed that “daily life in the modern world, with its concomitant stress, psychological discomfort, and personal dislocation, has given rise to the need for comfort foods, and in a capitalist economy, of course, manufacturers have fully exploited such a need” (2002, p. 5).

Then I found this video on the subject from a most reliable news source…

This got me thinking about exactly WHEN did the term Comfort Food become part of the vernacular and here is what I found out…

The term “comfort food” (first used, according to Webster’s Dictionary, in 1977) refers to foods consumed to achieve some level of improved emotional status, whether to relieve negative psychological affect or to increase positive.

Comfort food is an increasingly prominent concept in the twenty-first century. Indeed, as a consequence of the term’s increased use in the English language (likely a response to increasingly stressful living conditions), the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary added “comfort food” to its list of 1997 entries, defining it as “food that comforts or affords solace; hence any food (frequently with a high sugar or carbohydrate content) that is associated with childhood or with home cooking.” That same year Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary added “comfort food” to the tenth edition, defining it as “food prepared in a traditional style having a usually nostalgic or sentimental appeal.” Comfort food may be best thought of as any food consumed by individuals, often during periods of stress, that evokes positive emotions and is associated with significant social relationships.

Then I discovered this graph tracing the increase of childhood obesity…

Overweight and obesity in children are significant public health problems in the United States. The number of adolescents who are overweight has tripled since 1980 and the prevalence among younger children has more than doubled. According to the 1999-2002 NHANES survey, 16 percent of children age 6-19 years are overweight (see Figure 1). Not only have the rates of overweight increased, but the heaviest children in a recent NHANES survey were markedly heavier than those in previous surveys

So…the advent of Comfort Food into vernacular and the growth in childhood obesity are parallel.

We are what we eat. We become what we think?

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