Monday, November 8, 2010

Comfort Food and Some Food Thoughts

Yesterday, I got some not so great news, and I felt pretty down. I was frustrated, disappointed, and a bit mad. I allowed myself to feel what I was feeling, and hubby did his best to cheer me up. When nothing else worked, he resorted to food. He listed all of my favorite foods and restaurants and knew that I would pick Korean. So we headed to a Korean restaurant. (Yes, we had just eaten out pretty much every meal since Friday night…)
Eating my favorite food worked! Smile I felt so much better after seeing and tasting the familiar side dishes (marinated lettuce, spicy bean sprouts, beans, spicy radishes with peppers, marinated radishes, kimchi, bean sprouts, Korean noodles, marinated scallions, celery, seaweed salad, potatoes and carrots) and eating a few spoonfuls of my hot tofu soup (a dish I still haven’t made at home, but it’s on “the list”…).


 And my hot, bubbly pot of comforting tofu soup with kimchi:

The toddler loved his noodles, seaweed soup, and rice.

We all felt much better after the meal.

Food Thoughts: A Little Bit About My Journey With (Comfort) Food

There was a time when I used food to deal with unpleasant life events. Through quite a bit of work (being mindful, forgiving myself, working on reducing stress every day, especially through exercise, yoga, and “me time”), I learned to not abuse food when life gets tough. But that doesn’t mean that a familiar food can’t provide comfort. I think it’s just important to not use food to silence what you are feeling.

I was very mindful when we ate at the Korean restaurant yesterday as I don’t want to go back to the place where I use food. And I certainly didn’t stuff myself with food (like I did in the past). Instead, I took the time to truly enjoy and appreciate the food. Just looking at all the beautiful side dishes, smelling them, and tasting just a little bit of each, helped me calm down and feel less anxious. And I think there is something almost magical about hot soup, especially hot soup that’s very familiar to you. It truly warms your body and soul.

Now, I wasn’t “perfect” yesterday, and I did overeat a bit at dinner. But that’s okay. One of the hardest things I had to learn when I stopped using food was to forgive myself for eating too much, which still happens once in a while. I had a second helping of pasta yesterday that I clearly didn’t need to eat to satisfy any physical hunger. I ate it for emotional reasons. But I was able to stop. And then I moved on, realizing that I could make better choices during my next meal. It was comforting to know that I had handled a very stressful day pretty well.

Questions: Are there any “food thoughts” you would like to share? What’s your favorite comfort food? Do you like soups? What’s your favorite soup? Have you ever had tofu soup? If so, do you like it? 

Be well,


  1. Anonymous11/09/2010

    I see what you say, it's so easy to go with comfort food when we don't feel good and generally we do it by ourselves. it feels good at that moment, but then it comes guilt. I has been there and sometimes when I overeat I still feel that way. but i'm doing much better nowadays because I find being with people who love and like is actually more de-stressing than eating alone. I was kind of stressed out yesterday, but after the party I host last night, I feel much much better! :)

  2. That meal would definitely cheer me up! :)

  3. Wow, that is a great shift in thinking, Andrea! I have been an "abuser" of comfort food when I'm stressed and there are a lot of negatives associated with that.

    Love how Korean restaurants serve small amounts in all those bowls. Beautiful!

  4. I an relate to this post in so many ways. I have to agree with you that food can still provide comfort with out being abused!

    I too love soup and find it so filling, satisfying and yes comforting as well. It makes me feel better. Even the act of making home made soup is comforting to me, I enjoy the chopping of vegetables, putting simple ingredients together in a pot and having the end result be so delicious and nourishing.

    The only tofu soup I have had is Miso soup but I like it!

    Congrats to you on finding the balance that works for you with allowing yourself to find comfort with food with out going into a binge.

    I seemed to have found that happy place myself and it sure does feel good!

  5. Giving voice to the feelings and then taking the time to enjoy the food you consciously chose to eat must have been so empowering. Good for you. Healthy food in reasonable amounts can be just as comforting...if not more so...than the alternatives.

  6. "But that doesn’t mean that a familiar food can’t provide comfort. I think it’s just important to not use food to silence what you are feeling."

    This distinction is so important, and I think you articulated it perfectly!

  7. I think it's definitely ok to eat some of your favorite foods in order to comfort yourself. Just like you said, as long as you do it mindfully and aren't out of control. When I feel low I typically go for a nice hearty slice of bread and butter. Those carbs always lift my spirits. I especially appreciate a good piece of bread now that I don't eat wheat. Sometimes it's worth it to just eat it! I'm glad the Korean food helped you yesterday. I think kimchi would brighten my spirits too!! Too bad Nick wouldn't go for it :( Maybe one day he'll get adventurous and take me to a Korean restaurant. Until then at least I have my mom with whom to go to restaurants like this.

  8. I love soups and comfort food. When i didn't feel good growing up, my mom would make me mashed potatoes and mac & cheese. Yes - two sides, all carbs - carbs make me feel better about life. hehe Now, i'm just trying to get through this football season/travel time - I can't wait to focus more on food and next year hope to really shift to more whole foods and less processed (major goal for me!). Those are my most recent food thoughts. :)

  9. Anything cooked low and slow is comfort food to me.

  10. My comfort food is eggs with toast. I'm generally not upset/anxious/nervous very often so when I am if I over eat a soothing meal I don't worry about it too much b/c I know it's not an everday occurance....

  11. I love this post! Especially when you talk about forgiving yourself. I'm really bad at that.
    I love soups, especially chowders (which I know aren't the best) I've never tried tofu soup, it sounds interesting!

  12. It's a great post and so affirming Andrea. I enjoy soups of many kinds - but a good vegetable is my favorite.

  13. i've never had korean food before! i always heard it involved a lot of meat, so i didn't think there'd be a lot of options for me. (clearly i was wrong, given the nice spread!) i don't eat soup a lot, but i do enjoy pumpkin.:)

  14. Such a great post. I think that favorite foods are comforting, just like favorite movies, favorite blankets, etc. I think the idea of not punishing yourself or feeling guilty is one of the best things you can do to have a healthy relationship with food.

  15. sorry you got bad news and that it bummed you out.

    that makes me sad, but I think it's totally fine to cheer up with a bit of comfort food.

    you seem to have such a good healthy grasp of what's good and not any unhealthy habits.

    nothing on that table looks even too indulgent either.
    Feel better!

    If I use food, it's usually marshmallow cream and a spoon. I just hit the pure sugar.
    not so good!
    my son is sitting here cracking himself up. no reason why. gotta go!!

  16. Oh no, what happened, Andrea? I hope everything is good now, and not just because you got some yummy Korean food.

    I definitely think food has its uses to bring comfort and happiness, but it is just temporary and shouldn't be the ONLY comfort source. I'm glad you know that, and that the bowl of soup calmed your spirits.

    My favorite soup is Korean oxtail, maybe we can go get that when you come over!! Solnungtang!!! :D

  17. Sorry about the not-so-great news. I'm glad hubby could cheer you up, along with Korean food. I think my feelings on food being used for comfort, without being abused, are the same as yours. Any food that's a favorite of mine is comforting. You can't disconnect food from emotion, it's not possible....but you can control it, just like you said. And getting there is the important part.

  18. Sorry to hear about the bad news. You delicious looking dinner would cheer me up!

    Great discussion about comfort foods. I agree with Nicole- "you can't disconnect food from emotion" but it is possible to slow down and enjoy and appreciate every bite without going completely overboard.

    Chicken noodle is always comforting to me. I have one specific brand that I always buy when I'm feeling "not-so-great".

  19. I definitely have comfort foods that I like to have when I'm having a rough day. Most of them are ones that my family makes and they remind me of them and of being at home.

  20. So glad that the tofu soup helped you out. Sorry for not introducing you to it sooner!

  21. Sorry to hear about the bad news...but gah, all that Korean food looks great! Hope it cheered you up. I'm sure it at least popped a little smile on to you and your family's faces!

  22. Comfort food can work wonders. But you know what I've found? Comfort food only REALLY works wonders when I have it with my comfort PEOPLE. If I have comfort food by myself, I tend to overeat and then just feel bad afterward. When I have comfort food with others, I eat a good amount and I enjoy spending time with people I love.

    I think it's the combination of food with socializing that can help get a person through a tough time.

  23. Love Korean food!! I attempted to make bulgogi recently, but it was nowhere near as delicious as our local Korean restaurant's (plus we didn't have all of the delicious condiments on hand).

    I definitely understand concern about "using" comfort food to get through tough times...however, when it comes to soup, there is truly something to be said for its power to soothe the soul. Don't you think? :)

    Hope your week is going better...

  24. Sorry to hear you were feeling down. I am glad you enjoyed your meal out for Korean. I have had tofu soup. I love almost all vegetarian soups. I hope everything is OK with you.

  25. Sorry to hear you had to get some bad news. That's never fun. But I'm glad that comfort food help you out in some way.

    I have so many comfort foods. Chocolate being one of them. I usually tend to to turn to comfort foods when I'm down or super stressed.

  26. I'm sorry to hear that you got some bad news :( I hope things are ok or getting better for you! Food can be a wonderful way to comfort yourself when surrounded by family and friends, and it sounds like you were very mindful of that while you were eating. I'm very proud :)