Comfort foods have become increasingly important during the Coronavirus pandemic and in her recent research, Lucy Long, Ph.D., has come up with some surprising ways that have helped relieve stress.
“I’m starting to see on traditional media and on social media that it is time for comfort food. A popular definition of comfort food is food eaten to relieve stress. We all face the stress of the pandemic. Otherwise, we are almost unconscious. So it makes sense, ”Long said. “Shouldn’t all food be comforting?”
Long is an adjunct professor at Bowling Green State University in American Cultural Studies and Tourism. He has received several grants for his work on an oral history project studying the role of comfort food during a pandemic through the Center for Food and Culture, which he founded.
This has led to a study called “How people use food to find comfort”.
“The basic idea is that food can connect us to other people and our past and our place. That sense of connectedness can give us comfort, help us feel grounded and like we have a place in the world, ”Long said.
This is not a scientific study, as it is based on self-selective questionnaires and interviews. Results and transcriptions are being archived in the middle.
The concept emerged from his 2017 book, which he co-edited with Michael Owen Jones, “Comfort Food: Meaning and Memories”. He was still promoting the book when the pandemic hit.
With a background in folklore, expertise in the sociology of food and recent books, he applied for a grant. Lama received enough – three small for a total of $ 3,700 – to provide an amount of honorarium to five graduate students he has worked on on a new project.
“The comfort food idea was developed by psychologists. It is a very American idea that you shouldn’t eat certain foods if they can make you fat, or not be good for you. So we needed a reason to eat it, “Long said. “People will say things like ‘Oh, I’m so bad. I eat french fries ‘or’ I feel sad, so I get a donut for myself. ‘We have to have a reason, so that we don’t feel like lazy and immoral people. “
People are feeling isolation from the coronavirus pandemic. And that gives people a reason to change their diet, Long said. When a pandemic occurs, it changes their behavior and attitudes about many things and food is no exception.
“A pandemic can be called a liminal state. That’s when all the rules got suspended. We don’t know what kind of new rules are and the old ones still exist, ”Long said. “So people really say things like, ‘Why should I worry about gaining weight?’ They suspended many of the usual rules about healthy eating. “
As the pandemic continues, people start trading recipes, but there are often ingredients that aren’t normally available.
“So people have to go to the store, and shopping might be scary,” Long said.
Making those comfort food then becomes a source of added comfort and stress. This resulted in a questionnaire called “Comfort / Discomfort Through the Food Route”.
So far they have surveyed about 70 people, mostly by individual interviews.
The interviewees had encountered many strategies to provide comfort, but the surprising and most popular result was that food itself was not the only comfort.
“It’s all about making you feel better. Many people find comfort in helping others feel better, ”Long said.
He added that many people say that providing food, through cooking for others, makes them feel part of something bigger.
As the pandemic continues, more and more people are taking part, both from within and outside the United States.
“I hope people will add to it, so we can get experiences from around the world,” Long said.
This research is getting more and more attention. Long has been a guest on podcasts, radio interviews, and workshops.