Believe it or not, comfort food doesn't just come in clutch to soften the blow of that time of the month, or ease the difficulties of a bad breakup.
When I take a mental health day in order to take a step back and relieve stress, for example, you better believe the day's itinerary will include plenty of snacking.
Bethany Kassar MSW, LCSW, executive director of Outpatient Services at Summit Behavioral Health, tells Elite Daily that emotional eating can actually be one of life's greatest pleasures, because of how it can positively impact all of your sensory pleasures:
Slowing down to experience your meal is the first step in creating this. Appreciate the taste, smell and look of the food you are eating. Perhaps do this in baby steps so as not to overwhelm yourself -- choose a new sense over a period of time to experience and value.
Obviously, cooking food, for most people, is simply thought of as a means to an end -- i.e. to satisfy your hunger.
But one of the best ways to truly nourish your body and mind is to prepare a meal, and really take the time to enjoy it.
For some, cooking can be extremely therapeutic.
I know myself, and when I'm in a slump, there's nothing better than a refrigerator full of food, just waiting to be prepared.
It feels so nice to be in control, and there's something deliciously satisfying about being in control of my kitchen.
So the next time you're opting out of the office to tend to your mental health, here are a few recipes and comfort foods to whip up and indulge in.
1. Fruit Salad
Full of natural sugars to give your body the energy boost it craves, one bowl (or even two) with a variety of fruits like pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, banana, and mango curves a massive sweet tooth.
Plus, the colorful start to your day full of R&R is sure to brighten your spirits on sight.
2. Mug Pancakes
Mental health days are meant to be lazy AF, which means if you only feel like putting in the bare minimum of effort to make some kind of edible meal, own it.
Bonus: It's also customizable! So feel free to add in all the goodies like fruit, chocolate chips, coconut oil, or even protein powder.
3. Cauliflower Wings
Comfort food is often synonymous with bar food, so here's a healthy spin on a heated classic.
Substitute white flour for rice flour, bake instead of fry, and liberally coat your veggie "wings" (aka cauliflower) with hot sauce, barbecue marinades, or a ton of spicy seasoning.
I won't say you won't notice a difference, but it's just as tasty, and it's so much easier to digest.
4. Homemade French Fries
Blame it on my Irish roots, but if you ask me, potatoes are life.
I like 'em fried, baked, mashed, or smashed and, to my husband's delight, this is one recipe I've perfected over time.
Take one (or multiple) potato of your choice (I love combining sweet and regular potatoes), and rinse and slice into strips. I find that, the thinner the strip, the faster they cook, but size preference is up to your discretion.
Massage the lot in extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle on your favorite seasonings.
I recommend a combination of sea salt, garlic, pepper, chili powder, pizza seasoning, and oregano.
Cook at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, flipping the fries halfway through.
Enjoy, my friend.
5. Egg And Toast
While soft boiling an egg (or two!), toast and butter a piece of bread.
Cut the toast into pieces and place in a bowl. Once the the egg is ready, let cool for a minute or two before breaking open the top and scooping out the runny whites and yolk.
It's ridiculously easy to make, and a great basic meal to add to if you're feeling a bit hungrier than usual.
6. Dark Chocolate
The sky could literally be falling outside my window, and a few pieces of dark chocolate would still make me feel better about life.
Yes, I'm exaggerating, but seriously, a bite or two of rich cocoa flavor when I'm in a particularly foggy state gets the job done.
Because of its flavanols and methylaxanthines, chocolate is believed to have fast-acting mood0enhancing effects, like calming anxiety and reducing feelings of depression.
7. Mac And Cheese
When I think "comfort food," I'm either reaching for chocolate-covered everything, or pounds and pounds of cheese.
Unfortunately, store-bought boxes are usually high in fat and artificial flavors that, yes, are a party for your taste buds, but can ultimately wreak havoc on your digestive system.
Luckily, there are a ton of healthy mac and cheese recipes out there to make this savory treat better for your body so you won't feel queazy going for that extra spoonful.
It's important to take a day or two for the sake of your mental health.
Just remember, when you do, there's no shame in eating yourself happy. Indulge away!