Good Mood Food
August 3, 2015
I have make an admission. I haven’t been in a very good mood recently. I am seriously disgruntled by the total lack of Summer. I can only assume that she has decided to ditch her annual visit to UK shores (and apparently is having a lovely time in southern Europe). However, the decidedly cool temperatures mean that I have not been able to spend nearly enough time in my gazebo. Long balmy evenings spent reading or doing patchwork have not happened for almost a month. Dining al fresco has similarly been “off the menu” and in fact most of the “the summer menu” has been “off the menu” too!
I am definitely a “summer” person. As lovely as Autumn and Winter can be (with my birthday and Christmas falling then) I know I am much nicer person to be around when the sun is shining; when the air is warm (or even on the odd occasion Hot!); and when I’m not cold and wet. Unfortunately, in my part of the world right now it has been very wet and so cold that I’ve had to do the unthinkable and put the central heating on.
The unseasonable weather also meant that my food shopping habits have changed. During the summer months delicious crisp salads with homemade pizzas; hand-made burgers with lettuce and tomato and LH’s special burger relish; fresh fruit salad; and long tall glasses of something involving “ice and a slice” are what we would usually opt for. However since I’ve been huddled up against the radiator it seems my body and brain have got the idea that it is once again Winter and my taste buds turned to the comfort food that I usually eat in December and January.
Before I go any further, I must clarify the term “comfort food”. It has changed considerably since I signed up for WLR. In the past “comfort food” meant cakes; anything containing cheese and wrapped in pastry; chocolate and crisps (the other commonly used term would have been “junk food”). However, now the term “comfort” food means that. Food which I find comforting… but which is also nutritionally sound.
I have turned to tasty warming food for a good many of our meals over the past two weeks. Our customary summertime pasta salad has been replaced by a wonderfully hearty bowl of pasta and bolognaise sauce with the merest sprinkling of half-fat full-flavoured cheese. Not what I would usually eat in July – but with a chill in the air and a grey and overcast sky, it was just what I wanted. Similarly on Sunday we enjoyed a “full Sunday lunch”… something that we usually hope the weather will be “too hot for” in July. Unfortunately with a top temperature of 13 degrees the chill in the air was very definite and so a roast chicken dinner was very much the order of the afternoon. By suppertime I was feeling a little peckish and in need of something sweet. My mind went to “pudding and custard” (again very much a winter comfort food of my past) and baked apple with raisins and a drizzle of honey and a small serving of low fat custard was just what was needed. In terms of calories and nutrition it was all very much in line with my new habits … in terms of comfort.. it provided exactly what I wanted. My tummy felt full; my insides had thawed out a little and my mood was noticeably a little bit brighter.
Lovely Husband has also learned this lesson. Packets of crisps used to be plentiful and freely available at Hudson HQ. Now there is rarely a bag to be found in the house. LH realised that it was too easy for him to reach for a packet (or several) and just eat, eat eat. His solution is that he now buys the “microwave popcorn”. It isn’t instant – it takes a few minutes to prepare – so it makes him think “do I really want this”. He can choose between a sweet or savoury treat which is ready in three minutes – but the conscious effort that is required means he isn’t just eating mindlessly. He still enjoys his treat but is absolutely aware of it .. rather than it just being a background activity.
It is so easy, with hindsight, to see exactly how and my girth expanded to a point that I was unhappy and unhealthy. I have learned that food really is a source of comfort for me – but the wisdom of WLR has also taught me that “comfort” and “junk” are not the same thing. Food will always be an important part of my life – obviously not least because I need to eat to stay alive – but for me it plays its part in terms of it being a social event and emotional experience which can frame and punctuate my everyday life. For me the key has been discovering that I can still be comforted by food; that I can still enjoy lovely meals – I just needed to think a little more carefully about in the early days and had to make an effort not to just “do what I always used to”.
I know that the wisdom says there is no such thing as “bad food”…. I’m inclined to agree.. but I have to say that I know without question “Good Mood Food” is very real indeed… and I’m smiling because of it.
Have a fabulous weekend all you wonderful WLR-ers.
With a Hug