People are adding comfort foods and just plain strange foods to their pantries and fridges. Here’s what might be going on.
With the pandemic keeping a lot of people indoors, comforting and easy-to-make meals have made a comeback of sorts. Cereals, mac and cheese, frozen pizza and other types of fast foods are some of the items that are most sought after in grocery stores for those who don’t want to deal with cooking on top of everything else going on in their lives. Other people, however, are reporting a more curious change, claiming that the pandemic has provoked some strange cravings.
Like someone who’s pregnant and finds themselves craving weird stuff, a lot of quarantined people have reported a craving for weird foods that they normally wouldn’t think of eating, and also tackling recipes (re: sourdough) they never would have attempted before.
It would make some sort of sense that, after an approximate two months of following social distancing guidelines, people would get bored of the foods that are in their pantry and desire to try something new. And if you’re thinking that stress might be a cause for these strange behaviors, you’re right. Stress tends to be the answer to a lot of things.
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Men’s Health spoke with Kent Berridge,PhD, who said that food cravings are influenced by stress, even the sort of stress that we’re dealing with now, which feels long lasting, quiet and mutating. There’s days of normalcy, where you forget everything that’s going on, and others of anxiety triggered by any stressor. “Yes, to the degree home isolation and financial consequences are stressful, that would definitely set the stage for the processes above to kick in and magnify craving,” says Berridge.
Comfort foods are called comfort foods for a reason; they make us think of simpler times, perhaps when we were younger. Ricardo Fernandez, CEO of General Mills, told USA Today that sales of cereals like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Trix and Lucky Charms are booming. (Just a hunch, but these cereals probably aren’t just being enjoyed by kids.)
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“Families are turning to things like cereal to instill a sense of what’s familiar, what’s normal, something they trust,” says Fernandez.
With everything thrown out of order and no knowledge of when/if things will go back to normal, food seems like a good place to find an escape, whether that’s comfort or something more exciting.