Top 5 Comfort Foods for When We're Stressed

I want to be clear. This is a list of comfort foods that make me feel warm and fuzzy instead of stressed and anxious. This is not a health expert's list of top foods you are supposed to eat to help fight stress. In fact, some web perusing confirmed my suspicion that several of my top contenders are, in fact, the exact opposite of what you are supposed to eat to help fight stress.

But let's be real; no one's reaching for the almonds or mangos when they are feeling beaten down by life (and if they are, I'm pretty sure I don't want to know them, it'll just stress me out even more). I live by the mantra "everything in moderation." So when I'm tense and needing some comfort, I have no problem indulging in these tasty treats.

5. Pizza I know I sound like a 9-year-old boy, but my favorite food is and always will be pizza. Hands down. Pizz-mothereffing-a. And when you're stressed and it's time to eat, that's exactly what you need - isn't it? Your favorite food? I think so. Pizza is absolutely perfect for a super-stressed-out me. One, because it has cheese, and besides chocolate, cheese is the best thing in the world. And two, because pizza is so easy to make and when I'm feeling overwhelmed by life, cooking keeps my mind off things. I make my own pizza dough, and let me tell you, kneading that baby for 10 minutes by hand is the ultimate stress-reliever. Forget stress balls, this thing is for real. Even better, once the dough rises, I get to take my aggression out with one nice big punch. Booyah - take that, stress! After I roll it out and top it with anything and everything, I anxiously wait 10 minutes for my pizza to crisp, pacing as I worry this time it may not cure my anguish. But when it comes out of the oven and I take my first bite, the piping-hot, gooey cheese impresses yet again, never failing to engulf my woes and ease my tension. When there's pizza, all is good in the world.

4. Chinese takeout Don't get me wrong. While I do love cooking, sometimes when I'm stressin', there's just nothing better than good, old Chinese delivery eaten straight from the takeout box. The crispy, greased-up egg roll that I smother lovingly in duck sauce gently soothes the soul. My worries melt away as my focus shifts to scooping tiny grains of rice into my mouth with a pair of chopsticks. Next is the General Tso's, and as I gaze into the unnatural sheen of my chicken and see my reflection, I take a moment to reflect on all of the positives in my life. Feeling uplifted, I dive feverishly into my Egg Foo Young, knowing everything is going to be okay. And if it's not, my fortune cookie says I'm about to inherit money or a small piece of land, so I always have that going for me.

3. Hot Toddy With tea, whiskey, a slice of lemon, honey, and cloves or cinnamon, Hot Toddies are the perfect concoction for those trying to ease their stress. This one's a no-brainer; I use the tea to relax me and the whiskey to numb me. When life has gotten to me, I can just put on my PJs, play some Sade and let the Toddy work its magic.

2. Chicken Soup There's just something so calm and relaxing about a piping-hot bowl of homemade soup. We all know it was Mom's go-to my-child-is-sick move, and somehow, it always worked. It's kind of like being swaddled in a nice warm blanket; except it's soup, so being swaddled in it would kind of hurt. I like to de-stress with my Aunt Barbara's famous Chicken & Escarole Soup. Picture this: Rich homemade broth filled to the brim with hearty vegetables; carrots, celery, onions, and leafy escarole; flawlessly seasoned mini meatballs stuffed with fresh parsley and parmesan, big chunks of roasted chicken, and perfectly al dente cheese tortellini. Top it with freshly grated cheese, and how could one possibly care about anything else going on? It's the ideal solution for a rough day; I consider it my Chicken Soup for the Ass-Soul who stressed me out in the first place.

1. Chocolate Anything Hi, my name is Brooke, and I'm a chocoholic. For reals - this is a serious matter. I crave chocolate all day everyday, even when I'm in a great mood. So when I'm tense, forget about it. There's only one thing on my mind (besides what I'm stressing over), and that's chocolate. The more chocolate, the better; I'm a fiend. Like, give me triple chocolate cake filled with dark chocolate ganache, covered in thick, creamy Bavarian chocolate icing, rolled in semi-sweet chocolate chips and topped with thin shavings of...wait for it...any f*cking kind of chocolate. I'll take it served with a tall glass of chocolate milk and an ambulance. I firmly believe that it's impossible to feel stressed after that (minus the stressing over the 85 pounds I probably just gained by consuming that much chocolate).

What comfort foods help you cope with a stressful day?

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Brooke Viggiano is a contributing writer who is always looking to share Houston's coolest and tastiest happenings with the Houston Press readers.
Contact: Brooke Viggiano