Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Choosing Comfort Food?

Is there anything that you consider a healthy comfort food? Mine are all distinctly unhealthy - and irresistible.

Answer (Published 4/19/2007)

Comfort foods are very personal, and there's some evidence that men and women differ markedly in their choices. A national survey conducted in 2003 by the Food and Brand Lab at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that when men seek psychological comfort from food, they gravitate toward dishes their mothers made for them, such as mashed potatoes, pasta, meat, and soup, while women seek out less labor-intensive foods such as chocolate, candy, and ice cream. Interestingly, this survey found that people are most likely to seek out comfort foods when they're in good spirits or want to reward themselves, rather than when they're stressed, sad or lonely. But there's also some thought that mood may govern these preferences- people go for pizza when they feel happy, cookies when sad, and chips when bored.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Healthy Eating - Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Nutrition - Want to change your diet? The Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging online guide is your anti-inflammatory diet headquarters. Start your free trial and get access to an exclusive version of Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid, hundreds of recipes, eating guides, and more.

To my mind, three of the soup recipes on this site qualify as healthy comfort foods. One is Creamy Tomato Soup. Many people consider tomato soup a comfort food, but this one is special because it is nutritious and wholesome, particularly when prepared with soy milk or nut milk. Another, Roasted Vegetable Soup, can be served by itself or used as a base for other soups. You oven roast the vegetables before adding them to a stock, enhancing their flavors. And Miso Soup, a Japanese staple is healthful, delicious, and easy to make. Miso, a paste made from fermented soybeans, is full of antioxidants and other protective nutrients.

If your idea of comfort food is chocolate, indulge in some quality dark chocolate (look for a good imported chocolate that contains at least 70 percent cocoa). Chocolate contains polyphenols, the same kinds of antioxidants found in red wine and green tea; stearic acid, a type of fat that doesn't raise cholesterol levels; and flavonoids, which reduce the stickiness of platelets, inhibiting blood clotting and reducing the danger of coronary artery blockages. For the sake of calorie-control, try to limit your chocolate "comfort" to an ounce several times a week. If you need "crunch" for comfort, opt for a small handful of raw, unsalted nuts - pistachios, almonds, cashews, or walnuts. While nuts are high in fat, most of them contain monounsaturated fat that is good for the heart as well as fiber and vitamin E. Eaten in moderation, nuts can lower your risk of heart disease and heart attacks.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here