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The science behind why we’re all obsessively baking banana bread


By Holly O'Neill
07th Apr 2020
The science behind why we’re all obsessively baking banana bread

Most of us haven’t worn a bra in weeks. Many of us have forgotten how to draw on our eyebrows. A lot of us have done a yoga class with Adriene (good job on the SEO, Adriene). But every single one of us has baked banana bread. What is this?


An angry uncle giving out about people not social distancing. “Netflix recommendations?” Facemasks. Sweatpants. Screenshots of group Zoom calls. Glasses of wine. Home workouts. Very elaborate meals. A meme from your auntie that says, “we’re about two weeks away from seeing everyone’s real hair colour!” A throwback group picture, nervously captioned, “obviously pre-isolation!” And banana bread. So much banana bread.

Is this an accurate representation of your social media feeds? Same. This is all of our social media feeds.

How is your self isolating going? I have days where the entire house gets cleaned (I dusted my perfume bottles yesterday to kill an extra five minutes). I make pasta from a recipe, do a face mask and a workout and continue to make attempts at the piano. Then I have days where I protest all concept of productivity, stay in pyjamas and binge my way through Netflix (have so far completed Tiger King in a day, Stranger Things in four days and Peaky Blinders in three days. I don’t care for your judgement.)

But have you baked banana bread? You have. There is no flour left in the supermarket. I did too, week one of… All This. Why? I don’t know. It seemed like a comforting thing to do. It wasn’t that good, and I haven’t made another one. When do you eat it? Is it breakfast? Do you put it in the toaster? Do you put butter on it? Is it a dessert? But most importantly, why has this bread anomaly, previously only the priority of vegan food bloggers, taken hold of so many of us?

Related: The myth of productivity during a global pandemic

Part of it is the cult of busyness. I am feeling the pressure that I am supposed to come out of this period of forced-time-at-home with some sort of achievement, some tactile representation that I used my free time to be productive, such as a tidied wardrobe made up entirely of curated essential basics, like a French woman. Or a best-selling debut novel. Or the glowing skin of a toddler. You know, something more than an afternoon spent learning how to play Still Dre on piano. Here, Instagram. Take this picture of my homemade banana bread and eat from it. Here is my time, which has been given up for you. At least, in order to impress you with my productivity and domesticity.

So why has banana bread, of all things (honestly, I don’t think I’ve seen someone even eat a banana since primary school) taken hold of the world?

Grazia spoke to counsellor, psychotherapist and Counselling Directory member Katerina Georgiou, who says it’s about a mixture of comfort and control. “In uncertain times, many will try and establish some kind of control to cope – food is a common aspect of our lives we take control from,” she says.

‘The act of baking is a mindful activity that we can focus on and the fact we have to eat gives way to a useful routine to grasp hold of. It also engages our five senses, which is an important part of grounding when feeling anxious to bring us back into the present. In baking, we use our hands, we engage our sense of smell, we feast our eyes, we hear the sounds of the kitchen and ultimately taste the food. The smell of the cooking can also take us back to comforting places of childhood when we were being looked after.”

There you have it. You’re just looking for a bit of comfort. Lean into it, and try these versions from Irish foodies.

Photography by Mike Dorner on Unsplash.


Read more: Lean into the banana bread trend: this is how 5 top Irish foodies like to make it

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Read more: ‘Make Your Bed’: this empowering book could change your life (or at least your lockdown experience)