Rethink comfort food: what to eat when you're hurting


You've had a bad day and all you want is a big tub of ice cream and to wallow in self-pity.

And while it's long known that eating a whole bar of chocolate won't solve much, there are now thought to be some foods that really can heal broken hearts and curb anxiety.

'I see so many girls who comfort themselves after a heartbreak by eating Nutella and big portions of ice cream'

French chef Joël Robuchon, who has the most Michelin stars in the world, and neuropharmacologist-and-acupuncturist Dr Nadia Volf, are behind book Food & Life, which offers up recipes with the mental and physical benefits described.

"I see so many girls who comfort themselves after a heartbreak by eating Nutella and big portions of ice cream, but it doesn't work. They gain weight, and they don't feel better. The most beautiful thing to eat when you have heartbreak is turkey, because turkey has the amino acid tryptophan, which is the basis of our hormone serotonin. But the girls just don't know that," Nadia previously told New York Times.

So is there some method to this madness? Can lean poultry really outdo a huge bowl of Cookie Dough? We sum up some supposedly mood-boosting foods.

Fighting anxiety and sadness

A breakup is one of the most common reasons to comfort eat. So what can make you feel better whilst watching The Notebook on repeat? Food & Life suggests radish, turnips, carrot, small white beans, trout, carp and sea bass. If you're feeling fruity, reach for oranges or pears. As a snack, try almonds and pine nuts.

Fighting anger

Has a fallout with friends left you seething? Or has your boss wound you up at work? Stop dialling your local takeaway and look to seafood instead. Oysters, clams, molluscs and scallops are all thought to help when you're angry. Pair with sweet rice, fennel and celery and then reach for a dessert that includes hazelnuts, pecans or coconut. Other anger-busting foods include egg whites, anchovies and sunflower seeds.

Overcoming pain

It's not just emotional troubles that have us reaching for comfort food - suffering from the cold in winter or struggling with menstrual cramps can mean a craving for stodgy meals. Instead, vegetables with a strong flavour could be the answer - think garlic and onions. Aromatic herbs like parsley and chives also make the cut, as do plums and cherries.

© Cover Media

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()