Need an instant cheer up? Indulge in these comfort foods that are sure to brighten up your day.
Picture it: you have just had an argument with a loved one and stumbled into the kitchen in a daze. The next thing you know, you are elbows-deep in the refrigerator, scouring for some leftovers to help divert your attention from the fight. It is just leftovers — not the type of food you would go for had you not been so upset. Nor is it in line with your diet but that does not matter. Even happy feelings can send one rushing to the cookie jar because blurring out intense emotions — good or bad — is the goal.
This all-too-familiar scenario is linked to the grand human tradition of ‘comfort food.’ It generally isn’t the healthiest but it will get you through an otherwise insurmountable day. Irrational as it may be, food, especially our personal list of favourites, holds the power to shift our mood. We identify with it due to our emotional or cultural experiences. We revert to it when are down and need a reminder of an aspect of ourselves that we like. Humans bond over food, offering it as a show of hospitality to others.
But there is scientific proof of why humans tend to ‘eat away their depression.’ During times of stress, adrenal glands in the body release a hormone called glucocorticoids at a lower level which drives us towards pleasurable fatty foods to accumulate abdominal fat. In doing so, our body sends the brain a signal to stop releasing more hormones. Many experts believe that rich foods like chocolate, cakes and ice-creams can chemically help rectify a foul mood. There is considerable scientific evidence that carbohydrates present in most mainstream foods raise serotonin levels in our body, creating a ‘feel-good’ sensation in our minds. In a research involving subjects who were asked to view a sad movie and listen to sad music, it was found that those who had received an injection of saturated fat were less affected emotionally than those who were not. They also showed less brain activity than the second group.
Point being, our bodies clearly respond to comfort food, meaning your craving for rich chocolate brownies after a depressing movie isn’t just in your head. People do a lot of unhealthy things trying to cope with pain and loss, including self-harm and drugs. So in the grand scheme of things, eating a little extra fat can’t be that bad!
So the next time you are down, treat yourself to the following comfort foods that your shouldn’t think twice about. You deserve the cheat day!
3) Peanut butter paste
4) French fries
6) Chocolate pudding
Published in The Express Tribune, Ms T, March 23rd, 2014.
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