Comfort Food and Family Therapy

Let’s face it. Life gets crazy and maintaining a happy (and sane) family can be a challenge sometimes. That’s why we started thinking about tried-and-true ways to bring families together, nurture marriages and calm the crazy a bit. It’s no secret we love food, and cooking up comfort food is a sure-fire way to crank up the joy-meter in the family.

Fascinating Facts About Food and Comfort

Interestingly, there is scientific proof that certain comfort foods really do promote and stimulate feelings of satisfaction, joy, and calm. These studies further show that there are reasons we reach for comfort food like potato chips instead of a chunk of broccoli. Apparently, grabbing a doughnut or plowing into a bowl of mac n’ cheese is a knee-jerk response to coping with feelings of isolation, depression, or negativity.

There are also specific types of foods that are known to decrease feelings of distress or discomfort. Foods high in sugar, carbohydrates as well as fatty snacks are shown to trigger uplifting feelings and jack up psychological and physical levels. That’s why we tend to haul out Ben & Jerry’s ice cream after a monstrously stressful day. The bad news is, these comfort foods wreak havoc on our family’s health. The good news is there are healthy alternatives that have similar mood-boosting effects as a candy bar. Well, we admit, sometimes nothing beats a Snicker’s bar (remember their 1980s slogan? Snickers satisfies you!). Nevertheless, healthy substitutions are the best option for the long-term wellbeing of your family.

Combating Family Stress with (Healthy) Comfort Foods

If we gobbled up a chocolate brownie every time our toddler throws a tantrum in aisle four of the grocery store or our teenage daughter’s biting sarcasm sets our teeth on edge we’d all be chained to our treadmills to fight the battle of the bulge. Managing emotional family outbursts or handling stress in a marriage can be hard. Thankfully, there are healthy food options that are proven to reduce stress (and your waistline). So, when those hectic moments happen (and you know they will happen!) you can make better choices. Here are a few tasty, healthy foods for you and your family that trigger feelings of calm and comfort in times of stress.

Dark Chocolate: Believe it or not, you can have your chocolate and eat it too! Studies show that dark chocolate with at least 70% of cacao has an energizing effect on endorphin levels. Sure, it’s not the same as a bag of M&M’s, but dark chocolate is an excellent compromise for its power to ease emotional unrest and offer remarkable health benefits.

Salmon: Put away the fatty French fries, and opt for healthy fatty fish! Salmon is loaded with omega 3 fatty acids which are proven mood boosters. Not only does salmon elevate emotions for you and your family, but this nutrient-rich fish is also a powerhouse when it comes to cell regeneration. This means eating salmon can improve hair growth as well as give your skin a youthful glow. Vibrant skin and reduced stress sound like a no-brainer comfort food to us!

Quinoa: As it turns out, quinoa is more than just a culinary trend that’s grown in popularity recently.  There are nutritional studies that show this super whole grain can actually lift our moods. In fact, quinoa contains a flavonoid that serves up an impressive antidepressant effect. So the next time you whip up a family dinner, consider adding a portion of quinoa for extra stress-reducing comfort food!

Talking Around the Table

Consult any therapy site or, if you’re lucky, a graduate of an online MFT program, and you will learn that communication is a fundamental factor for a harmonic, healthy family and marriage. One of the best ways to get family members to open up and start sharing their feelings is gathering around a table of deeply comforting food. The best therapy for any family is coming together to talk about what’s going on in everybody’s lives. What better way to coax conversation than over a tasty, tantalizing meal? We know that schedules get bonkers and time gets twisty, but establishing one or a few nights per week when the whole family can sit down over a delicious (and healthy) meal will encourage happy talk around the table…and happy talk leads to a happy family!

We are happy to present this collaborative post to offer valuable information to our readers.

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