Self Care For Advocates Presents:
What is Self Care?
Part 2: Comfort Food
Welcome back to our next installment in Self Care for Advocate’s new blog series where we ask the illusive question, What is Self Care? Last time, the answer we explored was; Self Care is Friendship. Our guests Danielle Mars LMSW and Renee Smith took us on a journey through their decades long friendship and helped us understand how our friendships, in both giving and receiving support, can be a profoundly impactful source of self care. You can find that full video on our Patreon here.
Today however, we’re exploring a new answer to the question of, “What is Self Care?” And that answer is, Self Care is Comfort Food. We’re going to take a look at what comfort food means to us, and how a pinch of indulgence can lead to a pound of self care and self love.
The Oxford Dictionary defines “comfort food” as “food that provides consolation or a feeling of well-being, typically any with a high sugar or other carbohydrate content and associated with childhood or home cooking.” The Cambridge dictionary defines it as “the type of food that people eat when they are sad or worried, often sweet food or food that people ate as children.” So right off the bat we have a lot to unpack in these definitions. The first perspective is that comfort food has to be something that we know is “bad” for us (high sugar, caloric or carbohydrate content). The second definition implies that comfort food is something that reminds us of/is meant for children, and we associate it with anxiety and sadness. There is nothing inherently wrong with either of these definitions, and there is more than a little truth to them, but they lack a certain warmth and understanding of what comfort food means to us as individuals. To me, comfort food is anything that makes you feel good and maybe reminds you of simpler or happier times. Though I’m known for my sweet tooth, I don’t think that means that comfort food inherently has to be something sweet.
Comfort food can be as healthy as we make it, and for some the healthier it is the better they will feel about it. But the true value in comfort food is that it takes us away from concerns over health, and the extended relationship with body image that it creates in all of us. True comfort food is something that while you’re eating it, you’re not worried about those everyday stressors. Just like true self care is in taking yourself out of the worries of your everyday life, eating or preparing your comfort foods should take you to a place of calm and peace. How you feel may be as varied as the different things that comprise comfort food to us, but we each deserve those precious moments of self care and peace.
According to comroftablefood.com, the top 10 Comfort Foods in the U.S. are:
Buffalo Mac n Cheese
Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Chicken Pesto Pizza
Spaghetti and Meatballs
And Tomato Soup
To anyone here in the United States, these would appear to be some of the most classic examples of comfort foods that we know and love. But just as our preference for comfort foods varies, so too do our preferences for how we practice self care. As an added bonus to this blog, we have included a recipe to one of our favorite sweet comfort foods. We hope you’ll enjoy reading this recipe, and maybe try it out for yourself!
“When deciding what to include for this self care comfort food recipe, I had to think back to what comfort food meant to me. The list itself is as long as there are things to eat, but I wanted to include something that was both comforting and reminded me of simpler times. That’s why I chose my family’s Cherry Crunch recipe. When I was a kid, my mother’s family would get together a few times a year, mostly around the holidays. We all lived in different states, so we didn’t see each other as much as some families do. But we always made the most of our time together, and one of my core memories is that my mother and her family would always inevitably cook up a batch of Cherry Crunch. Although many families in the South enjoy Cherry Crunch, I’m putting our recipe here as a guide. Hopefully you’ll make it, and it will become a heartwarming memory for you too!”
-Connor, SCFA Staffer
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup butter
- 1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling (Any other pie filling will do, take your pick!)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C.)
- In a medium bowl, combine the rolled oats, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Sprinkle one half of the crumb mixture in the bottom of a 9 inch square baking dish. Cover with cherry pie filling. Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over pie filling.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown. Serve warm. And don’t be afraid to add a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
This recipe was a lot of fun, and we hope anyone reading this in our SCFA community or beyond will be willing to give this fairly easy recipe a try. You can support SCFA AND watch the video guide to this recipe at our patreon here.
When we think of comfort food, it’s important to also note that “food” in this sense is completely relative. Really it’s anything you can find comfort in eating or drinking. To many of us though, the act of cooking itself can put us right out of comfort and into misery. Especially when our mental health is suffering and we really need to be able to soothe our spirits without standing over the oven. That’s why we’ve also decided to add a comfort drink option! This next recipe has two versions, a cocktail and a specialty coffee version! For those that do or do not consume alcohol, this wonderful beverage is an annual reminder to give yourself a break. We’re talking of course about the Velvet Pumpkin Latte.
Velvet Pumpkin Latte: Coffee Based
- Coffee or espresso (instant, K cup, whatever is easiest for you!)
- Spice blend (You can make this homemade using cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, cloves, etc. OR you can easily pick up a premade pumpkin spice mix at your local grocery store, no judgment here!)
- Choice of milk, dairy or non dairy (A full fat oat milk can provide all the creaminess without the risk of dairy for those of us who are lactose free).
- Additional sweeteners, add honey for a smooth texture and sweet taste versus just adding sugar
And that’s it! The point of this recipe is that it is simplicity itself. Many people forget that it can be the simplest things that give us the most comfort. Sometimes our mental health is not in a place where we can extend the extra effort to make ourselves something special. Even if it could potentially make us feel a little bit better. Endless scrolling on Instagram and TikTok would have us believe that if we’re not making gourmet, post worthy coffees and meals that it isn’t worth doing. But self care is about making us feel better, not about impressing an audience. If you were already going to grab that soothing cup of java, take the extra minute to jazz up your coffee, froth up some full fat oat milk and mix in some pumpkin spice. These are just small acts of self care that can do us all a world of good without pushing us past our breaking point.
Velvet Pumpkin Cocktail
Coffee flavored liquor of your choice (We recommend an espresso rum or vodka)
Pumpkin flavored liquor (Our favorite is the Pumpkin Spice Cream Liqueur from Trader Joe’s, check it out here)
Mixer (This is done best with heavy cream, but full fat oat milk will do just as well)
Sweetener to taste (A simple syrup is great for cold beverages, and you can buy it or easily make it from home).
Shake or stir well
Serve over ice.
These two beverage options are great for a relaxing morning, or an evening at home. They can both be served with coffee or cold brew, for a hot or cold, alcoholic or nonalcoholic preference. What matters is that you’re taking a moment to practice self care.
And so we’ve asked ourselves once again, What is Self Care? And today’s answer is; Self Care is Comfort Food.
Stay tuned for Part Three of this Five Part series from Self Care for Advocates, What is Self Care? Continue to get more info at our website https://selfcareforadvocates.org/ and if you want access to more behind the scenes content and to help us continue to provide resources for the advocate community and beyond, consider supporting us on Patreon here