Savoury, sweet and full of flavour: why we eat peanut butter straight from the jar – a guilty delight that feels so wrong but is actually perfectly all right

Asia's Tech News Daily

peanut butter, serotonin, Häagen-Dazs, Nutella, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, here

I don’t know what came over me recently.

I was home and decided I wanted to make myself lunch. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much in the fridge. There was stuff in the freezer, but to thaw anything then would take time and I didn’t want to wait.

Instead, I noticed my jar of peanut butter. It was brand new – and huge! I had compared prices at the shop and deduced it was much more economical to get the gargantuan 1.3kg (2.9 pounds) tub rather than the smaller size I usually pick up.

I took the jar, looked into my pantry and realised I was also out of bread. I could have made noodles or cooked something else, but laziness or impatience caused me to do something I don’t usually do.

peanut butter, serotonin, Häagen-Dazs, Nutella, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, here

Peanut butter is a food Andrew Sun associates with childhood. Photo: Getty Images

I took out a spoon and just started in on the peanut butter until I felt sufficiently full. This is not a regular habit, but when I have gulped my Skippy extra-crunchy straight up, it’s surprisingly satisfying.

Peanut butter is a food I associate with childhood, but it’s something that I (and many others) still enjoy. It’s savoury, sweet, comforting and full of flavour. If I want to get clever, I have even made salad dressing and a spicy noodle sauce with it.

So why do I feel so pathetic and sad at this moment because I gorged on peanut butter at my desk, alone, in the middle of a work day?

Certain foods, by reputation and/or science, are just known to make us warm and fuzzy. They break out our bank of serotonin and improve our mood, regardless of any other health factors regarding its ingredients.

Ice cream is the most obvious example of a feel-good food. It’s the ultimate fix for when you’re down, going through a bad break-up or have the worst day at work. That’s when we give in to our inner Bridget Jones, curl up on the couch, replay the Love Actually film, and destroy a tub of Häagen-Dazs mint chocolate chip.

peanut butter, serotonin, Häagen-Dazs, Nutella, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, here

No bread? No problem – if you want to eat peanut butter straight from the jar, you can. Photo: Getty Images

If it’s an especially heartbreaking long-term relationship, then just eat the tub in bed. There are worse things to wake up to than your face and pillow smeared with Rocky Road.

Peanut butter offers that kind of emotional reassurance to my belly. But to eat it straight from the jar does make me self-conscious, like – am I really OK? How stressed or traumatic do I feel? Why else am I Skippy bingeing?

I felt less uneasy later when I found on Huffpost an article that was an ode to spooning peanut butter straight into your mouth. “There’s no shame in this game,” it began. “Spooning peanut butter minimises the chance you’ll get it stuck on the roof of your mouth, which increases tenfold when you eat a peanut butter sandwich on soft white bread. It’s science.”

peanut butter, serotonin, Häagen-Dazs, Nutella, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, here

It’s time there was no shame in wanting to lick spoonful after spoonful of peanut butter. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Next, I surveyed social media, wondering if the hive mind also indulged in this way, and the suggestions, confessions and proud affirmations poured out. “Scoop peanut butter into ice cream and eat directly”, “dunk chocolate into the peanut butter jar”, “go get a 1kg tub of Nutella”, and best sad eating advice, “spray a whole canister of whipped-cream into mouth”.

I don’t know whether to offer my friends hugs or give them a high-five? Yes, it’s time there was no shame in wanting to lick spoonful after spoonful of tasty nut fat, protein and sugar. I think it’s OK to be OK with this. We’re not in a dark place. This is not a desperate plea for help.

But if you are doing it because you’re sad, that’s perfectly fine too. Sometimes, we all want to swallow more than our feelings.

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