EATING to feel better, our 'comfort foods'

Wednesday, November 7th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The stress of war is eating away at our waistlines. Sales of candy, chocolate, ice cream, French fries, even peanut butter and jelly are up since the events of September 11th and all the anthrax scares.

Dieticians say that’s not a surprise, since many people turn to their favorite comfort foods when life seems so unsettled. The question is, how do you keep those comfort foods from becoming a battle of the bulge? News on Six reporter Heather Brooker talked with some experts who say there's help for those who've packed on the pounds.

It’s a weighty issue most people don't like to talk about, eating to feel better. Diane Kondos say she tries to avoid snacking when stressed, but it's not always easy. "Carbohydrates definitely, I love carbohydrates." She says she uses exercise to curb her stress. But it's not that easy for everyone.

Weight Watchers leader Judy Hofer says after the events of September 11th and the anthrax scares more and more people are turning to comfort foods for relief. "I think so many people tended to stay home, they tended to hibernate as they heart this information unfolding.” Everyone’s familiar with what a comfort food is. Things like chocolate, chips, cookies or bread or a combination of them in chocolate chip cookie dough.

Instant gratification but experts say there is a healthier way to find comfort during a stressful time. Grace Bandeh, St. Johns dietitian, "people get anxious their looking for comfort. Food is one thing that gives them some type of reassurance." Bandeh says there are alternatives to eating junk foods, try fat free chips instead of regular, eat fruit for your sugar intake instead of cookies, and use fat free substances when cooking. "It's real important to watch the portion sizes. I can't stress that enough, plus regular exercise will help with the stress level too.”

Both experts say with moderate exercise and a little will power, you can find your way out of comfort food frenzy.