Comfort food

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Chicken soup is a common classic comfort food that is found across various cultures, and is widely regarded as a folk remedy for the common cold and flu.

Comfort food is traditionally eaten food (which often provides a nostalgic or sentimental feeling to the person eating it),[1] or simply provides the consumer a familiar meal, soft in consistency, and rich in calories, nutrients, or both.[2] The nostalgic element most comfort food has, may be specific to either the individual or a specific culture.[3] Many comfort foods are flavorful; some may also be easily prepared.

Psychological studies

Comfort foods may be consumed to positively pique emotions, to relieve negative psychological effects or to increase positive feelings.[4] The term was first used, according to Webster's Dictionary, in 1977.

One study divided college-students' comfort-food identifications into four categories (nostalgic foods, indulgence foods, convenience foods, and physical comfort foods) with a special emphasis on the deliberate selection of particular foods to modify mood or effect, and indications that the medical-therapeutic use of particular foods may ultimately be a matter of mood-alteration.[5]

The identification of particular items as comfort food may be idiosyncratic, though patterns are detectable. In one study of American preferences, "males preferred warm, hearty, meal-related comfort foods (such as steak, casseroles, and soup), while females instead preferred comfort foods that were more snack related (such as chocolate and ice cream). In addition, younger people preferred more snack-related comfort foods compared to those over 55 years of age." The study also revealed strong connections between consumption of comfort foods and feelings of guilt.[6]

Comfort food consumption has been seen as a response to emotional stress and, consequently, as a key contributor to the epidemic of obesity in the United States.[7] The provocation of specific hormonal responses leading selectively to increases in abdominal fat is seen as a form of self-medication.[8]

Further studies suggest that consumption of comfort food is triggered in men by positive emotions, and by negative ones in women.[9] The stress effect is particularly pronounced among college-aged women, with only 33% reporting healthy eating choices during times of emotional stress.[10] For women specifically, these psychological patterns may be maladaptive.[11]

A therapeutic use of these findings includes offering comfort foods or "happy hour" beverages to anorectic geriatric patients whose health and quality of life otherwise decreases with reduced oral intake.[12]

Comfort foods by country

Australia and New Zealand

Australian comfort foods include the following foods:[13][14]


Bangers and mash is a British comfort food.[16]

British comfort foods include the following foods:[17][18][19]


Bubur ayam (chicken congee) is an Indonesian comfort food.

Some popular Indonesian foods are considered to be comfort food, usually served hot or warm, and soupy or with a soft texture. Some Indonesian comfort foods are traditional Indonesian food and some are derived from Chinese influences. For some Indonesians, especially those who are abroad, comfort food might also be a certain brand or type of Indonesian instant noodle, such as Indomie Mi goreng.[20] Indonesian comfort foods include:



Polish comfort food include the following foods:

Russia and Ukraine

Russian and Ukrainian comfort foods include the following foods:

United States and Canada

Macaroni and cheese is an American comfort food.[28]
Fried chicken is another American comfort food.[28]

North American comfort foods include baked beans, apple pie, clam chowder, chicken noodle soup, casseroles, and other warm, inviting, and familiar foods.[29]

Following a reader's opinion poll by, the following foods were listed as the most common comfort foods by American respondents:[28]

Other comfort foods, as reported by CNN, include:[30]

One recent development, as chefs have explored the roots of American cuisine and tried to define it as a unique style, is the advent of fine dining comfort food restaurants that feature more careful cooking and presentation, higher quality, and fresh organic ingredients, along with consequently higher prices.[31]


  1. "Comfort Food." (definition). Accessed July 2011.
  2. "Comfort food". The Free Dictionary By Farlex. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  3. Rufus, Anneli (June 22, 2011). "Explaining the Psychology of Comfort Food". Gilt Taste. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  4. Wansink, Brian; Sangerman, Cynthia (July 2000). "Engineering comfort foods". American Demographics: 66–7.
  5. Locher, Julie L.; Yoels, William C.; Maurer, Donna; Van Ells, Jillian (2005). "Comfort Foods: An Exploratory Journey into the Social and Emotional Significance of Food". Food and Foodways. 13 (4): 273–97. doi:10.1080/07409710500334509.
  6. Wansink, B; Cheney, M; Chan, N (2003). "Exploring comfort food preferences across age and gender". Physiology & Behavior. 79 (4–5): 739–47. doi:10.1016/S0031-9384(03)00203-8. PMID 12954417.
  7. Dallman, Mary F.; Pecoraro, Norman; Akana, Susan F.; La Fleur, Susanne E.; Gomez, Francisca; Houshyar, Hani; Bell, M. E.; Bhatnagar, Seema; Laugero, Kevin D.; Manalo, Sotara (2003). "Chronic stress and obesity: A new view of 'comfort food'". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 100 (20): 11696–701. doi:10.1073/pnas.1934666100. JSTOR 3147854. PMC 208820. PMID 12975524.
  8. Dallman, Mary F.; Pecoraro, Norman C.; La Fleur, Susanne E. (2005). "Chronic stress and comfort foods: Self-medication and abdominal obesity". Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. 19 (4): 275–80. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2004.11.004. PMID 15944067.
  9. Dube, L; Lebel, J; Lu, J (2005). "Affect asymmetry and comfort food consumption". Physiology & Behavior. 86 (4): 559–67. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2005.08.023. PMID 16209880.
  10. Kandiah, Jayanthi; Yake, Melissa; Jones, James; Meyer, Michaela (2006). "Stress influences appetite and comfort food preferences in college women". Nutrition Research. 26 (3): 118–23. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2005.11.010.
  11. Lebel, J; Lu, J; Dube, L (2008). "Weakened biological signals: Highly-developed eating schemas amongst women are associated with maladaptive patterns of comfort food consumption". Physiology & Behavior. 94 (3): 384–92. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2008.02.005. PMID 18325547.
  12. Wood, Paulette; Vogen, Barbra D (1998). "Feeding the anorectic client: Comfort foods and happy hour". Geriatric Nursing. 19 (4): 192–4. doi:10.1016/S0197-4572(98)90153-7. PMID 9866509.
  13. "Australian Comfort Food Recipes".
  14. "Ultimate Comfort Food". ninemsn Food. ninemsn.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Romero, Jo (27 September 2012). "Comfort foods from around the world". Yahoo! Lifestyle UK. Yahoo!.
  16. "Bangers and mash most popular comfort food as Britons eat more during credit crunch". Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-05-08.
  17. "All-time classic British comfort food recipes". Delicious Magazine.
  18. "Comfort food recipes". BBC Good Food. BBC.
  19. "British comfort food to make your mouth water".
  20. 20.0 20.1 Indomie - Mi Goreng
  22. Comfort Food Helps Indonesian Maid Recover
  23. 23.0 23.1 BBC: Barack Obama's Indonesia charm offensive
  24. Chowhound Indonesia - Soto Ayam at Malioboro Country
  25. Ardis, Susan (7 November 2012). "Pierogies: Comfort food, Polish style". The State.
  26. Scatts (17 January 2011). "What Is Polish "Comfort Food"?". Polandian. Wordpress.
  27. Izlar, Camille (14 February 2013). "Polish Comfort Food: Best Way to Stay Warm". Steve Dolinsky.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 Filippone, Peggy Trowbridge. "Top 25 Comfort Foods and Recipes".
  29. Slotnik, Daniel E. (26 May 2012). "What's Your Comfort Food?". The New York Times.
  30. Joseph, Dana (10 May 2012). "American food: the 50 greatest dishes". CNN Travel. Time Warner.
  31. "Comfort Food Goes Upscale: Top Chefs Injecting Luxury To Old-Fashioned Favorites". CBS News. 2005-08-28.

Portions of content adapted from Wikipedias article on Comfort food licensed under GNU FDL.

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