Comfort Foods  

rm_unlistedone 65M
3832 posts
11/19/2005 6:35 am

Last Read:
3/5/2006 9:27 pm

Comfort Foods

Comfort Foods: Women Like Sugar, Men Meat


ALBANY, N.Y. -- Comfort food for women often means snuggling up with tub of mint chocolate ice cream to wallow in their blues. But for men, comfort foods serve as a reward when life is looking rosy.

Just what triggers people to turn to "comfort foods" -- and which foods they pick -- often depends on whether you're asking a man or a woman, according to a new study by Cornell University researchers.

It turns out women are slightly more likely to eat comfort foods high in fat and sugar like cakes and ice cream -- along with a hefty serving of guilt, loneliness and depression.

Men, on the other hand, are more likely to turn to soups, pasta and steaks as a reward when they're feeling upbeat.

That's significant because those who associated comfort foods with positive emotions were more likely to pick healthier fare, according to the study recently published in the medical journal Physiology & Behavior. The study was conducted with researchers from McGill University in Canada and was drawn from a Web-based survey of 277 participants.

Researchers promoted the one-time online survey through mass media, primarily seeking out single people. Of the total respondents, 196 were female and 81 male.

"Comfort foods don't have to be high in fat and sugar. Comfort foods can be healthy," said Jordan LeBel, a Cornell professor and lead author on the study. "This shows we can re-educate people so that comfort foods aren't always about negative emotions."

Foods high in sugar and fat content are more efficient in alleviating negative feelings, according to the study. That finding is supported by numerous past studies, including one by researchers at the University of California in San Francisco that found rats tended to consume fat-packed foods when confronted with high-stress situations.

But the Cornell study also found that those who named comfort foods low in calories -- like soups, fruits and vegetables -- were more prone to associate them with positive emotions.

"Not everyone uses comfort foods to alleviate stress," LeBel said.

For example, women were 50 percent more likely than men to admit feeling guilty about indulging in comfort foods. At the same time, 40 percent of female respondents picked high-calorie sweet foods, while the same was true for 35 percent of men.

The steaks, pastas and pizza men gravitated toward aren't necessarily optimal choices, but in general are better than the sugary fat-traps women lean on, LeBel said.

Another section of the study examined which comfort foods people picked when they were restraining their caloric intake. Like women, those on the strictest diets tended to associate comfort foods with negative feelings. And they were also more prone to pick the most nutritionally deficient foods. That section of the study has not yet been published.

That might explain why women are more drawn to high-fat, high-sugar foods when in need, LeBel said -- since they are more likely to be more preoccupied about weight gain. So when they're down in the dumps, the head straight for forbidden foods.

"The logical extension is that if you stop worrying, you'll naturally make healthier choices," LeBel said.

Among the other findings were that older people were also more likely to report higher positive emotions after eating their favorite comfort foods than women and younger adults.

caressmewell 53F

11/19/2005 4:08 pm

I like peanut butter and honey sandwiches, they remind me of my childhood!

rm_unlistedone 65M
2718 posts
11/19/2005 11:40 pm

caress, if you keep it a secret, I keep some of that stuff around myself.

I'll look at it, lick my lips, and close the cabinet quickly... after grabbing a diet "something." One of these days though...

Hope you are having a great time in Savannah. hug to you, unlisted

rm_unlistedone 65M
2718 posts
11/20/2005 1:04 am

Welcome kat. We all have our cravings and our weaknesses.

Now veggies! That's really me. If I'm at a buffet, I'm subject to go back for the veggies while everyone else has pie and cake. I guess that makes me strange. (Or stranger... I'm not sure which)

Come back anytime! unlisted

online69n 51F

11/21/2005 10:20 am

I have to have potatoe......Whether they are fried with salt and butter on them, baked or boiled with mustard and pepper on them or just out of the garden raw with the dirt wipe off on my jeans and peeled with my teeth; I love potaoes!

papyrina 51F
21133 posts
11/23/2005 2:35 pm

chocolate and chrisps

I'm a

i'm here to stay

rm_unlistedone 65M
2718 posts
11/24/2005 12:39 am

online, welcome! Me too, I do love em. I used to eat them raw... but I prefer them cooked... in any fashion. Come back anytime. unlisted

rm_unlistedone 65M
2718 posts
11/24/2005 12:41 am

Papy, how do you do it and stay so sexy lookin? Interesting combo. big hug, unlisted

rm_unlistedone 65M
2718 posts
11/24/2005 12:44 am

When I saw this article, I found it interesting that women actually do go after the high calorie sweet stuff when they were feeling down. What surprised me is that the men didn't. (I think they were "lying.")

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