Having a stressful day at work? Or maybe things with your partner aren’t going that well lately. In both cases you may resort to something like a mouth watering pizza, french fries or maybe even something sweet like ice cream, to make you feel better. Everyone has their comfort food and we don’t only turn to it when we are upset. Some research has shown that comfort food is also something that we reward ourselves with. But are you addicted to unhealthy comfort food?
There are several reasons for which you may be choosing that specific delight to indulge on in emotional situations. It could bring back good memories, like when you got hot dogs with your dad after a game or your mother made pasta on weeknights. Or it could just be that you know this one specific food will make you happy no matter what has happened in the day.
The downside is that unhealthy comfort food is usually at the top of everyone’s list. Not many people, including the ones that like it, will crave a bowl of boiled broccoli or spinach. So, many times creating a dependency on “comfort food” for emotional comfort or just relief can be detrimental to your health.
When is comfort food something to worry about?
If it starts becoming a dependency and you consume large amounts of the specific food then it starts becoming a problem. Firstly because you are now on a very unbalanced diet and secondly if it is a food that contains lots of fat, sugars, and processed ingredients you are putting your health in danger.
It is important for everyone to consider themselves as individuals and in what cases they resort to their favorite meal for comfort. Unhealthy comfort food shouldn’t become a means of releasing tension and anxiety.
Desserts and foods with a high content of sugar should be something that you consume moderately and not regularly, especially if it is to fight a bad day. Sugars are closely related to depression and anxiety, particularly during the time frame after you consume sugar known as the “sugar low” or “sugar crash”. During the “sugar crash” your body will have secreted a significant amount of insulin to process the sugar. This will cause a quick reduction of sugar in your blood and adrenaline will kick in to compensate. Anxiety levels will rise and any feelings of comfort from eating that tub of ice cream will have dissipated.
Is unhealthy comfort food making you feel better or worst?
Some research shows that people who look forward to their comfort food dinner are more focused on their goals and see it as a reward, while others may be in a vicious cycle of depression and food addiction. In the later case and if someone is for example feeling insecure about their weight or figure, unhealthy comfort food dependency can become just another liability.
Desserts and foods with a high content of sugar should be something that you consume moderately and not regularly, especially if it is to fight a bad day. Sugars are closely related to not only obesity and many diseases but also depression and anxiety.
Of course comfort isn’t only found in greasy, fatty, or sweet foods. Many people have associated healthy homemade meals with comfort and will opt for a stew full of vegetables or a soup. Again, extremes are not desirable and a healthy diet is all about balancing what you eat and getting a lot of fresh vegetables and unprocessed foods. But the risks in such cases are far fewer that if you are consuming unhealthy comfort food.
It is important for everyone to consider themselves as individuals and in what cases they resort to their favorite meal for comfort.
How to change the way you eat when you are feeling down
- Condition your mind to find comfort in other healthier foods. Yes this is possible, there are many delicious and easy to cook meals that will provide the nutrients your body needs. This will make you feel better in the long run as well!
- Replace comfort food relief with physical activity. Playing a sport or even a 20 minute jog in your neighborhood will significantly increase the level of endorphin in your body and eliminate the need to eat in order to feel better.
- Have a healthy snack earlier in the day or as soon as you start having thoughts of the massive plate of fries you were going to make tonight. It will take the hunger factor away and probably fix your mood before its too late.