If "comfort food" isn't comforting, where are we supposed to find comfort?
Comfort food makes bad mood worse
You've had a bad day, made worse by a long trip home. The bills are due, there's nothing on TV, your spouse is monopolising the computer, and you feel like you have no friends. Plainly, it's time for some comfort food.
Or not. That big bowl of chips, that cheesecake, the ice cream, the vast vat of pasta, the mashed potato mountain - whatever your poison may be, it really is poison, in a sense, according to new research: So-called "comfort food" can actually make you feel worse, not better, according to findings by scholars at Penn State University, in the US.
For a full week, the professors monitored the food and mood of 127 volunteers - carefully choosing people who did not have eating disorders - and they found a consistent pattern: after indulgence in a range of the sweet or stodgy - or both - products known as comfort food, participants' moods were found to be significantly worse.
But whose mood, we wonder, will be improved by this news?
If we can't eat bad but tasty food when we want to feel better, what are we supposed to do? Does science really expect us to believe there's comfort in carrot sticks?