Why Are Comfort Foods So Comforting?
I would never come home and cook myself a giant plate of asparagus, but I would have no trouble coming home to a plate filled with chocolate chip cookies or a bowl of macaroni and cheese, depending on how I felt. Not only can comfort food choices be dictated by our mood, but in turn, they seem to directly affect our mood. That’s why we often indulge in these foods when we are not feeling our best. These foods seem to have almost magical properties as they have the ability to cure the blues regardless of how bad the day has been.
The response from comfort food is thought to be in part psychological. Childhood memories and associations often play an important role in choosing our comfort foods, even if only subconsciously. If your parents gave you ice cream whenever you felt sad as a child, ice cream could easily become your go-to comfort food when you feel upset as an adult.
There's always room to expand your list of comfort foods! For new ideas, check out this list of satisfying food:
Comfort foods are one of the few types of foods with the power to save the day. Although they usually aren't the healthiest of foods, they are meant to be indulged in every so often so that we can make it through those grueling days that might otherwise seem insurmountable.
The other side of comfort food responses is that they trigger biochemical/neurochemical responses. It probably comes as no surprise that comfort foods tend to be high in fat, sugar or carbohydrates. While scientists have yet to find any conclusive evidence about how these types of food affect our body, research is clear that they do. The most widely discussed theory is that a diet high in carbs increases serotonin production, a hormone in the brain that controls mood regulation. Yet another theory is that fat and sugars both affect cholecystokinin, a hormone naturally found in our brain and gut that controls the full-stomach feeling and the feeling of satisfaction that comes with it.