Comfort Food May Not Be Real, Study Claims

December 31, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. disappointment /dɪs əˈpɔɪnt mənt/ (n.) – a feeling that occurs after one’s expectation is not met
ExampleDisappointment may lead to emotional stress.

2. do the trick /du ðə trɪk/ (idiom) – to do something that helps in achieving a goal
ExamplePutting damp cloth on the head can do the trick of bringing fever down.

3. trace back /treɪs bæk / (v. phrase) – to find the origin
ExampleExperts trace back where the virus started to spread.

4. induce /ɪnˈdus, -ˈdyus/ (v.) – to cause something to happen
Example: Stress induces sickness.

5. antidote /ˈæn tɪˌdoʊt/ (n.) – a substance that stops the bad effect of a disease
Example: Experts have yet to find the antidote for the virus.


Read the text below.
Eating certain food to make one feel better may have no scientific basis.

Comfort food—like ice cream, fast food, or cakes—are usually bad for the health.  But for most people, these types of food relieve them of emotional stress caused by anger, loneliness, or disappointment.

Nutritionist David Levitsky of Cornell University thinks, however, that experts have yet to find how exactly comfort food helps people feel better. In his analysis, it’s the memory associated to food that does the trick and not the food itself.

According to Levitsky, what people usually consider as comfort food can be traced back to what they ate while growing up or during celebrations. For instance, some people would find chicken soup comforting because it was usually served by their mother when they were sick as a child.  

A study done in the University of Minnesota confirms Levitsky’s analysis. Professor of psychology Traci Mann and her colleagues tested 100 students’ response to comfort food. In the experiment, the students were asked to watch sad movies to induce sadness. Half of them were then given food that makes them feel better, while the other half had just ordinary food.

When asked about how they feel after eating, both groups of students said they felt better. This result may mean that food had nothing to do with the students’ moods.

Levitsky says that eating comfort food poses no danger, unless people overeat or turn to food to escape emotional problems. However, people should understand that food in itself cannot be an antidote to feeling down or frustrated.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What is your “comfort food” and what situations do you usually eat it/them?
·         What are some ways to cope with emotional stress? Please discuss briefly.

Discussion B

·         How do you think people can avoid emotional eating?
·         Would you say that you have good eating habits? Why or why not?

December 31, 2014