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Humble roast dinner tops list of most-loved comfort foods

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The traditional roast dinner has been unveiled as Britain’s best-loved comfort food. The classic meal topped the list of food which Brits turn to most to keep spirits high during the cold months.

Another old favourite, shepherd’s pie, was runner up in the study, with chips, lasagne and spaghetti bolognese completing the top five comfort foods warming British bellies this winter.

The research, which was commissioned by the AXA  ‘little things that mean a lot’ campaign, also placed macaroni cheese, cheese on toast and a good dollop of mashed potato high on our cold weather menu.

And the study of 5,000 people saw cottage pie, bangers and mash and chilli con carne continuing to warm us year after year.

But the humble bacon sandwich managed just 16th in the list, and the ‘Full English’ fry up only just crept in at 18th.

Nutritionist Angela Dowden who worked with AXA on the campaign, said:

”People think ‘comfort food’ means ‘naughty and out of bounds food’, but the act of indulging in favourite culinary treats is one of the little things that means a lot in life.

”The top comfort foods can actually be pretty healthy – a roast dinner supplies at least a couple of your five a day and can be a good source of protein and iron, whilst shepherd’s pie provides zinc and protein, and doesn’t have to be laden with saturated fat and calories if you choose leaner lamb mince.

”Diets that cut out the enjoyment and ban favourite foods aren’t sustainable and having modest portions of comfort foods could actually make it more likely that you’ll stick to a balanced diet and lifestyle overall.

”There are ways to tweak comfort food meals to make them healthier – with a roast dinner for example, simply cutting excess fat off the meat and adding an extra portion of vegetable will help. If chips are your weakness, opt for oven chips over deep-fried and with shepherd’s pie add plenty of carrot.”

With ‘Blue Monday’ – believed by most to be the most depressing day of the year – on the horizon, the study emphasised our tendency to turn to food to alleviate feelings of doom and gloom.

In fact, one in six (17%) stated that comfort food alleviates depression, feelings of loneliness and combats homesickness for them.

Chocolate topped the list as our favourite comfort snack when feeling blue, with almost a quarter of women citing it as their top pick me up.

Psychologist Donna Dawson added:

”What we forget is that the food we eat is more than a practical matter of sustenance for survival; specific foods also collect emotional associations over our lifetime and they become a little thing that means a lot in improving our mood.

”Traditionally, a roast dinner is the one meal when everyone in the family sits down together, even if it is only once a week.

”Alongside Shepherd’s pie, a roast dinner is what we remember our parents cooking for us while we were growing up, and we associate these particular meals with shared family time, happy memories, and feeling safe, secure and cared for.

”So when we are older, every time we have these meals again we will re-experience the same feelings of comfort, warmth and satisfaction.”

BRITAIN’S BIGGEST COMFORT FOODS

1. The roast dinner
2. Shepherd’s pie
3. Chips
4. Lasagne
5. Spaghetti bolognaise
6. Macaroni cheese
7. Cheese on toast
8. Mashed potato
9. Cottage Pie
10. Sausage and mash
11. Steak and chips
12. Chilli con carne
13. Baked potato with cheese
14. Roast beef
15. Roast chicken
16. Bacon sandwich
17. Fish pie
18. Full English breakfast
19. Steak and kidney pie
20. Chicken curry