Once, at an equity training for work, we did an icebreaker. As a way to mingle with people from other companies, we were asked to find someone and share what foods we eat when we don’t feel well. I laughed internally, anticipating what my partner would think of my choice of chicken and mangoes. I looked around at all the new faces, and locked eyes with someone who seemed kind. She smiled and came over. After exchanging names, she shared “I know this sounds weird, but my go-to foods are chicken and mangoes.”
I was flabbergasted. What a weird coincidence! I asked why — it was because she has ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis, so those foods are safe even when she’s in a flare up. I immediately shared that I have MCAS and EDS, and would choose those foods for the same reason. We were able to bond over the fact that we had almost all the same symptoms, and apparently shared the same dietary restrictions.
I still marvel at the odds of the two of us finding one another out of the dozens of people at the training, and for a question that allowed us to disclose what likely would have remained secret, that chronic illness deeply impacts our lives.
Food can be such a source of social and cultural connection. On an individual level, it can also be a source of comfort and healing. As the weather gets cooler and I feel the need to snuggle into blankets with chicken soup, it got me wondering — what do other people who live with illness choose for comfort foods?
So, I reached out to YOU, my Friends in the Fight, and got so many delicious responses! Here were the most common themes: