When we crave comfort foods, we usually do so because of a stressful situation or feeling. However, while eating something that makes us feel better in the short term may feel good, it’s not healthy for our bodies.
It’s essential to understand the science behind why we crave certain foods. We’ll discuss the differences between food cravings and addiction and how a healthy diet can support recovery from substance misuse.
When stressed, the stress hormone cortisol triggers cravings for salty, sweet, and fried foods that give you a quick burst of energy and pleasure. However, eating fatty and sugary foods can also wreak havoc on your body.
In a recent study, comfort food can help you relieve stress. This is because eating certain types of foods can boost the levels of neurotransmitters that make you feel good.
For example, research has shown that consuming foods rich in fatty acids can affect the same areas of the brain responsible for mood and emotions. This is why you may crave a bowl of macaroni and cheese or a piece of pizza when feeling down.
While comfort foods can relieve stress, they can also add to your waistline and may increase your risk of long-term health problems like heart disease and cancer. This is why finding healthy alternatives that will boost your mood and help you feel better is essential.
Boosts Dopamine Levels
Comfort foods like Carson comfort food near me typically trigger feelings of satisfaction, a sense of well-being, and sometimes even relief from stress. However, comfort food can also be harmful if consumed in large quantities.
The brain regions responsible for mood, such as the hippocampus, insula, and caudate, are often activated while eating comfort foods. These areas are triggered when eating foods high in carbs, sugar, and fat, elevating your mood by stimulating the brain’s reward system.
Dopamine is a chemical in the body linked to the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Low dopamine levels make you more likely to feel anxious, depressed, and irritable. This means that you may have difficulty focusing and feeling at ease, which leads to cravings for these high-palatable foods.
Boosts Serotonin Levels
Knowing that some foods can boost serotonin levels is essential if you’re prone to feeling low. The feel-good brain chemical is linked to mood regulation and is known for relieving stress and anxiety and improving sleeping patterns.
Foods that contain tryptophan can boost your body’s serotonin production and may help ease depression. Moreover, they’re a good source of healthy fats, fiber, and protein that can leave you full longer.
Chocolate, incredibly dark chocolate made from 85 percent cocoa, is an excellent source of tryptophan and also contains antioxidants called flavonoids, which can help stimulate the release of endorphins. In addition, it is also high in magnesium, a mineral that has been shown to decrease stress and improve mood.
Boosts Endorphin Levels
Comfort foods can be a welcome treat when we’re feeling down, stressed, or want to indulge in extra fat and sugar. But eating in moderation is essential, as finding other ways to de-stress.
When we eat fatty foods, they stimulate the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. They also release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers.
Foods that stimulate the brain’s reward and pleasure centers include ice cream, pizza, and chocolate. They also release dopamine, the brain’s primary mood-boosting chemical.
Eating a balanced diet, including complex carbs, protein, and healthy fats throughout the day, is essential. Nutritious sources of fats include nuts, seeds, avocadoes, butter, and oils.
Exercising and participating in mind-body therapies like meditation, yoga, and tai chi are also good ideas. These activities have been shown to boost the feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin levels and increase your endorphin levels.