Whilst making dinner my partner put a plate of raw fish under my nose and told me to smell it, I look at him and said ‘it smells like fish’ he replied ‘it smells like memories.’
So it wasn’t just any old fish, it was smoked haddock from his dads family business which he had grown up eating, and the smell for him has lovely connotations. (Smells like fish to me)
It got me thinking about the notion of comfort food again – I made fish pie with a gluten free sauce topped with swede mash (recipe below), hardly the greasy pizza or stodgy meal we think of when we hear the words ‘comfort food’ however for him, it is comfort food because of the memories.
So when we are feeling low and we reach for that naughty treat, why does it comfort us? If we associate it with feeling low why do we find comfort in it? – so I know there are many scientific answers to those questions but I’m thinking that with a bit of will power we could change what we see as comfort food and therefore curb our cravings.
This change is going to require you to think about your food much more and make positive associations. It will also require you to make good food decisions. I’m not suggesting you try this when you are feeling low, actually quite the opposite.
Next time you are out for dinner with your friends or family, having a cosy night in with someone you love, catching up with someone over a coffee – make a good food choice – instead of focusing your mind on the cake or chips you would have preferred to order instead of your skinny latte or salad – focus your mind on the situation, be mindful of the atmosphere, the happy feelings you are experiencing, think about the memories you are creating.
By putting the emphasis on the situation, you will break the habit of craving that piece of cake or burger and start to crave the company you are in and the feelings you are experiencing.
This isn’t to say you never eat a piece of cake or what we have come to know as a ‘cheat meal’ ever again – it just means you are programming your mind to focus on the moment and perhaps, next time you have a food craving, it will be for that healthy choice you made which reminds you of the memories you made.
Fish pie mix (or whatever fish you want to use)
1 small swede
250ml milk of choice
2 heaped tbs of flour (buckwheat for GF)
1 clove crushed garlic
100-150g grated cheese
Handful of fresh parsley
Peel and chop the swede into small pieces and place in a pan of boiling water, being to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until soft.
Place the fish in your dish, sometimes I like to add veg like broccoli and pees.
In a small pan melt 250g of butter, add flour and mix to a paste. Add the milk gradually stirring continuously, until you have a smooth thick sauce. Add more milk or flour if needed. Stir in the garlic.
Pour the sauce evenly over the fish.
Drain the water from the swede and mash with 25g of butter. Smooth the mashed swede over the top of the fish.
Top with cheese if using.
Place in the oven at 180 degrees for 25-30 minutes until the cheese is melted and started the brown.