Self-Care Series, Part 2: Discomfort Food

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pizzaMemory: I was about eleven years old, walking in downtown Waterbury Conn. My friend and I each bought a slice of pizza (twenty cents). As always, it was delicious. After our last bites, we quickly headed across the street to a newsstand and bought a Hershey chocolate bar (five cents).

Thought: Even in my child’s mind, I remember thinking, “I am addicted to salt and sugar.” That hasn’t changed.

Comfort Foods: The foods I remember from my childhood as comforting were: candy, devil dogs, cookies after a meal, fresh fruit, the Dugan Man (he sold pastries on the street), the ice cream man, bagels with cream cheese, lox, onions, toasted bialys, bulkies, tuna on toast, potato chips, noodle koogle, and stuffed cabbage, to name a few. Oh yeah, and French toast made with Challah.

Vegetables: I didn’t grow up on many vegetables, at least not the fresh ones. My main memory of dinner veggies was watching my mother drop a boxed frozen plastic bag with broccoli and tons of butter into boiling water. If not that, we had a salad of iceberg lettuce, red onions and pale tomatoes.

A Different Kind of Comfort: Needless to say, the site of a bunch of fresh kale, or a glass of celery, cucumber, ginger juice does not comfort me in the way a toasted bagel used to. But seriously, I do love vegetables and healthy foods. I enjoy the physical and emotional effects they have on me and I appreciate my own experimentation with cooking.

pureed soupSoup: I find a lot of comfort in a good bowl of homemade soup. I recently made a pot of carrot, broccoli, ginger soup which I partially pureed and at the end added a bit of almond milk for creaminess. The consistency was awesome: part creamy and part tiny particles of colorful veggies, so tiny they hardly required much chewing. I seasoned it with a combination of slightly sweet herbs. I think I ate three bowls the first night.

Realization: I am comforted knowing that I live in an area abundant with fresh produce, much locally and organically grown. I can walk to the farmer’s market and find all that I need to prepare a week’s worth of healthy meals. As I become a better and more versatile cook, I am comforted by my ability to feed, nourish, and provide for myself.

I would love to hear from you . Please feel free to share any thoughts you have including memories about your comfort foods.


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6 Replies to “Self-Care Series, Part 2: Discomfort Food”

  1. Great posting! Growing up in Stratford, CT not far from Waterbury. I had a daily diet of cheeseburgers from Friendly’s or McDonalds, Ring Dings, fudge cycles, tuna sandwiches and the 1st meal I learned to cook at the age of 10, tuna casserole, yum! Oh and those “tasty turkey (whatever meat product it was)TV dinners”. I only ate one vegetable, spinach….and only when my mother cooked it. NEVER FRUIT, my dad didn’t eat them therefore, neither did I. I never even considered having an addiction to unhealthy foods.
    Now, I can’t believe I made it to my age eating that crap, but my eating habits have totally changed. I’ve been making a raw fruit/raw veggie/flax meal/almond butter/wheat germ blended drink for over 20 years. It’s thick, room temperature. I make about a quart and drink it for breakfast and lunch….it’s that filling.
    I love soups, I simmer 5 or 6 veggies and puree them. Now, that’s comfort food.
    These days, I’m not sure when the sugar and salt craving ends. I see many young and older still people eating lots of candy, chips and oh, those energy drinks, what’s that about?
    Bob Marley used to say “people, people, WAKE UP, OPEN YOUR EYES!”.

    • Thanks for your great visual image of childhood eating, I love it. Yes, I remember tv dinners as very exciting, especially when placed on a tv tray in front of the tv.

  2. I never used food as a comfort….when I was younger or now..
    What is most important to me now is to have the impulse to eat what I FEEL like eating.

  3. I remember going to the bowling alley down the street and eating pizza or burgers, then going to the vending machine for a Chocolate Bar. I remember huge buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken or Chicken Delight delivering a rib meal complete with fries and a blueberry muffin. I had no concept of food addiction. What I know to today is that I struggle with health, eating and mobility. If I change one thing that I eat or add something healthy, like a vegetable to my diet, I can get healthier.

    Thank you so much for your blog. It truly touched a chord. Susan…

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