Whether you reach for mashed potatoes, chicken soup or spaghetti and meatballs for comfort depends on your relationship with the person who first prepared the food for you in childhood.
If you have a positive association with that person, you’re more likely to be drawn to the food when you’re feeling rejected or lonely, suggests research from the University of Buffalo.
Moreover, comfort foods are specific to each individual’s memories. What makes you feel better may not provide solace to someone else. And not all comfort foods are starchy or fatty. One person’s mac and cheese is another person’s roasted Brussels sprouts, according to the research in the journal Appetite.