Daily Joy and Celebration: How to Indulge in Guilt-free Comfort Food

Josey Murray

Written by Josey Murray | Edited By: Aditi Khandelwal

It is natural for us to long for a sense of belonging, connection, and positive feelings, especially during stressful times like these. Comfort food reminds us of warmth, brings us feelings of love and relieves our nerves. It allows us to feel fulfilled and whole, and provides us with positive feelings.

We are allowed to listen to our bodies.

We are allowed to eat what we crave.

We are allowed to release the negative emotions of guilt.

We are allowed to indulge in everyday comfort and celebration 

There are certain components of our daily life that provide us with stability and comfort, like that morning cup of coffee you look forward to as you dread getting out of bed, that glass of wine you enjoy with dinner or with your daily dose of reality TV. This pattern provides us with emotional support, especially in times of increased stress and uncertainties in other aspects of our lives. First of all, it’s okay. Second of all, I’m here to help you think about why those foods provide you with comfort, how they are actually good for you, and how you can amp up those health benefits with some balancing tips.

I’m going to let you in on some secrets – you’re allowed to experience joy every day and it’s okay that food brings us joy.

Social surrogates are nonhuman experiences that make us feel connected – this is the role comfort food plays. According to Psychology Today,  research on social surrogates shows that “just thinking about a comfort food or writing about it increased emotional well-being.” Just the thought of your mom’s mac and cheese or your grandmother’s Polish cookies makes you happier. That’s the kind of power that food wields. Isn’t that amazing? Without any actual interaction, you are connected to family – bringing you comfort, joy, and belonging.

Our society wants us to feel guilty for a lot of our actions. So, we are subjected to the harsh societal ideas about bodies. The guilt of non-compliance is exactly what fuels restriction and engagement in the diet culture. 

And I have to say – it’s 2021 – we are not here for that. 

Our bodies naturally want balance and we have to trust that. But we also have to remember our existence as emotional beings guided by the want for love and connections – and that food, as well as nourishment, is social and cultural. 

Here are some common, comfort food rituals that get us through daily life and especially life in 2021 and exactly how to make these habits  more nourishing.

Daily Comfort Food

Daily Comfort Food #1:

A Morning Cup of Coffee

The Reminder:

A cup of coffee reminds me of being at home with my mom in the hills of Western Pennsylvania, of good conversation and early morning bonding before everyone else wakes up. It evokes memories of visiting my grandfather on Saturday morning and making him a cup of coffee with honey as he tells me stories.

There is magic in warm drinks, in the steam that flows into your face as you take a sip. The daily ritual is a sublime human experience.

Latte

The Health Benefits:

A study found that drinking coffee is “linked to positive emotions, including pleasure, kindness, affection, satisfaction, friendship, calm, and yes, happiness” and “also noted that no negative emotions were tied to coffee consumption.” (1Coffee boosts calorie burning. It protects against breast, colorectal, endometrial, and prostate cancer. Consuming coffee for a lifetime is connected to prevention of cognitive decline.  It increases muscle strength and endurance. (2And those legendary ANTIOXIDANTS. 

Balancing Tip:

Make a ritual of your daily cup by making French Press coffee. By slowing down your routine, you can be more mindful of your morning. While you grind your own coffee beans and wait for the water to boil over the stove, think about what you are grateful for today. 

Use plant-based milk in your coffee. Try a different kind of sweetener other than white sugar if you like it a little sweet. Try honey or monk fruit. 

Make Cook and Culture’s Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte that harnesses the powers of warming spices. With pumpkin, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice, this latte warms you from the inside while prepping you for the day. Speaking of spices, you can always just toss some cinnamon in your regular cup of coffee to add some flavor.

Try a coffee supplemented with mushrooms! You can buy some special coffee blends with turkey tail and lion’s mane. For more info on how these mushrooms can boost your focus and immune system, check out this post.

Daily Comfort Food #2:

A Glass of Wine With Dinner

The Reminder:

A bottle of blackberry merlot shared with my parents at a cozy local winery on a summer evening. A flute of champagne on New Year’s Eve, hopeful for a vibrant year ahead. Rosé and a romcom on a Thursday night.

Wine has become synonymous with celebration and joy, with friends and belonging, with feeling good and relaxed. And a lot of us want to experience more of those feelings on a daily basis. I’m for sure not here to tell you not to.

The Health Benefits:

Wine reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. It boosts good cholesterol and prevents bad cholesterol. It protects against cancer like oral cancer, and slows the growth of breast cancer cells. It can strengthen bones by cutting the risk of osteoporosis. (3)

Rose Wine

Balancing Tip:

Drink red wine. I’m sure you’ve heard about drinking a glass of red wine a day and the potential health benefits. And that’s great news. We love a reason to indulge and relax. If you’re familiar with Blue Zones, the areas of the world with the most centenarians, you know that particular habits in a person’s life, usually in this case cultural, can affect health and longevity. Centenarians in these blue zones drink one to two glasses of wine a day. Sardinians drink a regional red called Cannonau that has two to three times the flavonoids as other wines. According to the Blue Zones site, the trick to reaping all of the health benefits is enjoying the wine with “good friends and good food.” If you can’t find Cannonau, any dry red will do. (4

If you don’t want to drink wine but want a celebratory drink, try putting your water in a fancy glass and adding some lemon or lime and mint. The fancy glass is enough to remind you of all of the good times you have celebrating life. And why not use those glasses you have hidden away for special occasions?

Kin Euphorics

What are you waiting for?

Every day should be special. 

With adaptogens, nootropics, and botanics, Kin Euphorics aims to give drinkers the same feelings as drinking alcohol but in a different way.

Other great drinks I like that provide nourishment and are much more fun than water include kombucha and ACV drinks. Kombucha is so mainstream now that you can find it at any grocery store and in so many different flavors. My favorite is GT’s Guava Goddess. Bragg’s has delicious apple cider vinegar drinks that allow you to benefit from ACV without having to endure the taste straight up. 

Daily Comfort Food #3:

A Piece of Chocolate to Sweeten the Evening

The Reminder:

The excitement and surprise of a box of chocolates. Chocolate covered strawberries on Valentine’s Day. The unbridled joy of Charlie Bucket and Grandpa Joe when they get the golden ticket to Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. 

Chocolate undoubtedly makes us happy, brings us comfort and joy. But, why does it make us feel so good? I’m sure you’ve heard the idea that chocolate brings you the same feelings as falling in love. It is our own little love potion. And maybe we can use it to fall in love with ourselves a little. 

Anyway, here’s how the magic happens. Chocolate is made up of a few different components that make us happy. Actually, it can improve mood and alter brain patterns. The amino acid, tryptophan, helps the brain make serotonin. Phenylethylamine, a mouthful, is the love stuff. It acts as an antidepressant and produces the feelings of falling in love, increased heart rate, alertness, and motivation. Theobromine enhances relaxation. (5)

Dark Chocolate

The Health Benefits:

Chocolate can increase heart health with its antioxidants, balance the immune system by reducing oxidative stress, improving brain function with flavanols, reduce risk of diabetes, and reduce stress. (6)

Balancing Tip:

You can get the most health benefits from your chocolate when you eat dark chocolate – specifically 85%. I know that’s pretty dark, but I promise once you start eating it and make this your new go-to, you won’t be able to go back to milk chocolate. 

Kathryn Rogers, a featured foodie on Cook and Culture and founder of Maya Moon, crafts beautifully decadent chocolate. Her all natural, honey-sweetened truffles are made for daily indulgence. On their website, you can find guided meditations for each truffle! She’s created a complete experience for you to enjoy your chocolate and get the most out of your comforting moment. Each truffle flavor corresponds to a specific chakra, and each meditation goes along with that.

Maya Moon’s Rooted Truffle Meditation:

I AM PRESENT TO THE HERE AND NOW.

I AM CONNECTED TO THE FLOW OF INFINITE ABUNDANCE AND SUPPORT FROM MOTHER EARTH.

Maya Moon Chakra Chocolate Truffles

Bringing mindfulness to your daily chocolate consumption can be a great way to add more relaxation and comfort to the moment. Maya Moon also has ceremonial drinking cacao! This is exactly what we’re talking about when we talk about making these daily indulgences into rituals. They also have special adaptogen truffles to help you better reach that sense of calm. 

If you’ve checked out the blog post about how mushrooms nourish the body and can save the planet, you’ll remember a really cool fun guy, (hehe) Paul Stamets. His company, Host Defense, has a line of Primordial Chocolates. Completely vegan, made with coconut sugar, 70% dark chocolate, USDA organic, and Mycelium of the four most popular mushrooms: Reishi, Chaga, Lion’s Mane and Cordyceps (250mg of each), these chocolate bars are made to bring quality nourishment to your daily chocolate craving. 

Have any other comfort food that is part of your daily indulgence?

Let us know @cookandculture, and we can provide you with even more balancing tips to get the most out of your comfort rituals!

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