Men are from Mars and women from Venus? At least it seems so when it comes to food that bring them psychological comfort. Men like hearty meals, while women look for snacks that require little or no preparation, though they may cause pangs of guilt, says a study at the Food and Brand Lab at the University of Illinois.
‘‘Comfort foods are foods whose consumption evoke a psychologically pleasurable state for a person,’’ reported Brian Wansink, an Illinois marketing professor who heads the lab. Men find comfort in foods associated with meals prepared by their mothers (mashed potatoes, pasta, meat, and soup) rather than from snacks and sweets (excepting ice cream). But what is comfort for men is work for women. Female are mostly ‘‘chocolate addicts’’.
‘‘Because adult females are not generally accustomed to having hot food prepared for them and as children saw the female as the primary food preparer, they tend to gain psychological comfort from less labour-intensive foods such as chocolate, candy and ice cream,’’ Wansink said.
But the kinds of foods that give comfort may vary with one’s mood, according to the Illinois professor. A person may crave pizza when happy, reach for cookies when sad, and open up a bag of potato chips when bored. Adults hanker for foods that connect with specific personal events (‘‘My mom always gave me soup when I was sick’’) or to people in their lives (‘‘My father loved green bean casserole’’).