Winter hasn’t even settled in and I already have a cold. Sickness and other times of vulnerability tend to wreak havoc with my healthy eating plans, with all those good intentions flying out the window to get chicken wings to lift my spirits. My favourite comfort food when I’m sick is Chinese Buffet. In fact, it is a rule in my house, that every sniffle, sore throat, sneeze or cough must be alleviated by the comfort of wor wonton soup, almond chicken, pork chow mein, dry ribs and deep fried shrimp. Not that I need to be struck by some illness to enjoy a good Chinese Buffet, but I try to limit it to “special” occasions, like when I’m sick, pregnant, or in the vicinity of a Chinese buffet. So what to do with a cold or flu? The “feed a fever, starve a cold” advice never appealed to me. Any so-called solution that includes the word starve can bite me. My problem is that when I’m sick, I don’t lose my appetite. My appetite loses me and eats whatever she wants in huge quantity, with no regard for my belly, butt or thighs. How I envy those people who lose 10 pounds from stomach flu or a “bad” cold. To me, that’s what I would call a “good” cold. Give me one of those! I find food actually soothes a sore throat, so long as it’s soft or creamy. Stuff like canned peaches, macaroni and cheese, seafood casserole, Popsicles, ice cream and banana pudding feel good. But do they do good? Or maybe the question is, do they do harm? Will eating ice cream and other phlegm-inducing dairy products prolong my cold or simply shorten my supply of available hankies? I don’t mind some extra blowing if I can suck up a chocolate shake along the road to wellness. As a child it was a treat to have the stomach flu, because then and only then, did I get to drink ginger ale. And after I had my tonsils removed when I was five, the goodies that awaited me were anything but hard to swallow. At the hospital, a nurse peeked into the brown paper bag my sister Judy had placed on the nightstand and remarked, “You won’t be eating those chips and Smarties anytime soon.” At the time I only remembered the part of her sentence that included the words, “eating chips and Smarties soon.” So as soon as I got home… But I didn’t have weight problems back then. Poor, skinny little mouse. Yet, the habits were established and stay with me to this day. That doesn’t mean I can’t bring some new remedies to the table, though. Along with my chai latte I’m drinking green tea, with a generous scoop of honey to relieve my scratchy throat. I look forward to it each day. I had grilled chicken instead of wings, and vegetable beef soup instead of cream of mushroom. And I liked it. Not all comfort food has to be greasy and fattening. I can heartily enjoy what’s good for me as well as what’s good.
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