Coping with coronavirus: Americans eating more comfort food than ever during isolation

NEW YORK — Quarantine can be a lonely experience. For many people, there’s only one way to deal with life in isolation: food! A new survey finds three in four Americans are eating more comfort food than ever before while avoiding the coronavirus.

The poll of 2,000 Americans finds most of the country is turning to classic snacks during COVID-19 lockdowns. More than 60% of respondents say potato chips are their go-to comfort food right now. Ice cream is a close second, with nearly six in 10 people saying they need a few scoops to get through the day. Candy (58%), pizza (56%), and mac & cheese (51%) round out the top five on the comfort food menu.

Nearly four in 10 say they’re eating their favorite foods every day during the pandemic. Another 38 percent are indulging in comforting snacks every other day.

Spending isolation in the kitchen

The survey, commissioned by Sensodyne and conducted by OnePoll, reveals food is playing a powerful role in lifting spirits this year. Americans aren’t just eating food, they’re learning all about food too.

Forty-four percent of participants say they’re learning new recipes while at home. Over a third are spending isolation watching cooking programs and learning new ways to prepare their favorite dishes. America may even have a new wave of chefs after the pandemic, as three in 10 are taking online cooking classes.

Researchers say people are also sharing the joys of food with others, including perfect strangers. A quarter of respondents are using their time to deliver food to the less fortunate in their community. Nearly as many are thanking first responders by donating their food to them as well.

Emotionally, over 70 percent of Americans agree food is their favorite way to connect with loved ones.

Tooth problems making comfort foods not so comfortable

With all the cooking and tasty food filling American kitchens, the last thing people need is a toothache. The survey finds 37 percent are bothered by tooth sensitivity, especially to cold meals, which is bad news for all those ice cream fans.

According to the Academy of General Dentistry, sensitivity affects at least 40 million adults in the U.S. The poll adds that 77 percent of respondents with sensitive teeth worry they’ll never enjoy their favorite comfort food again.

“If you have avoided certain foods because of tooth sensitivity, managing the issue and enjoying those things again is easier than you think,” says Jodi Majewski, of GSK Oral Care,  in a statement.

The dental expert adds switching a toothbrush with soft bristles is the first step to solving the problem.

“The American Dental Association recommends that your toothbrush has soft bristles (instead of hard) to help minimize the risk of gum recession,” says Majewiski. “Next, switch to a toothpaste that specializes to relieve tooth sensitivity, so you don’t have to sacrifice your favorite foods.”

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