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3/19/13blog post

why do we love comfort foods?

In these final dreary months of cold and cloudy days, there are times I reach for comfort foods – foods that somehow brighten my mood. People turn to comfort foods not only during the dreary days but, when we are stressed, sad, lonely or even bored. Comfort eating is a learned behavior – it happened over time. Even rewarding our children with treats teaches them the connection between food and feeling good.

What are common comfort foods? Think foods rich in carbohydrates. These tend to be often high in salt and fat! Maybe it’s the M&Ms, chips, ice cream, French fries, brownies or cookies. Many comfort foods must be kept in check or you will have the battle of the bulge on your hands!

How do comfort foods work? A diet rich in carbohydrates increase the serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter, in our body, making us feel happy and relaxed. The more carbohydrates in, the happier the person! An interesting fact: serotonin levels change throughout the year and levels are generally lower in the winter months. Maybe this contributes to why some people put on extra pounds during the winter months?

How do we keep comfort eating in check?

  • Identify triggers and have your pantry stocked full of alternatives
    • Can you choose sugar free chocolate pudding Instead of plain chocolate?
    • Can you choose baked chips in a bowl instead of regular chips out of the bag?
    • Cut your portions in half of the comfort food – less in!
    • Keep a food journal and note when you reach for comfort foods. Is hunger present?
    • Practice mindful eating

What are your comfort foods? How do you keep comfort eating balanced and healthy in your home?

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