Comfort food is often consumed to give off some type of pleasure when we need it most. However, findings from a new study on foods that fall into this category will bring you anything but pleasure.
Why do we eat comfort food?
A piece of chocolate or a scoop of ice cream after a long day can provide a brief moment of joy, even if it’s not necessarily wise to consume sweets as a way of coping.
This has been seen during the pandemic when people resorted to food as a way to gain back control during the uncertain early months. Many studies have been conducted as to why people seek to comfort food when we need an outlet to make us feel better.
In a column for Psychology Today, Shahram Heshmat, an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield, said there are five reasons why we resort to comfort eating:
- To feel good.
- To self-medicate.
- The need to belong.
- A taste of nostalgia.
- Celebrating special occasions or holidays.
Regardless if any of these pillars aligns with your comfort eating tendencies, sometimes it’s just nice to have something that makes you feel good, but it may come as a surprise that not all comfort food actually makes you feel happy.
A new study examining the eating habits of people in the UK found that eating donuts, sugary drinks, and burgers put more people in a bad mood because of the side effects that soon come after consuming them.
The study, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Kallo, found that foods like fruits or unprocessed snacks made people feel better about about having a snack due to it “recharging our bodies”.
“Unsurprisingly, foods that were high in salt or fat like burgers, pizza and chips came out highly on the list of foods adults think make them feel worse,” said Hayley Murgett, brand controller at Kallo, in a statement. “Whereas fresher foods like fruits, nuts or simple unprocessed snacks with simple ingredients were likely to leave them feeling better for eating them.
“We believe in the power of nature and how impactful eating more naturally can be on your life. By eating more naturally we’re not just re-charging our bodies. We’re re-charging our minds and souls, too.”
While the study fails to provide reason why certain foods or beverages put people in good or bad moods, it does list the favorites (and least favorites) treats. Coffee, dark chocolate, grapes, and other fruit were ranked in the top 10 of food or drinks that put people in a good mood. Surprisingly, eggs and salmon were also listed as foods that give people a boost during the day.
Donuts, alcohol, and fizzy drinks were the top three foods that put people in a bad mood, according to the survey. Other meals like burgers, pizza, and pretzels were also listed.
Despite the distaste for how donuts or other sweets make people feel, there’s science behind why we tend to gravitate toward food that isn’t necessarily healthy for us — and it all has to do with our brain.
A Yale study found that the reward center in the brain looks for foods that have fat and carbohydrates, or processed foods. The brain appears to become a magnet once it thinks about these types of foods due to excess levels of dopamine produced.
Maybe it’s worth considering your next snack during the workday when you’re looking for a boost.
Foods that put people in a good mood
2. Dark chocolate
14. Leafy greens – kale, rocket, spinach etc.
15. Green tea
Foods that put people in a bad mood
3. Fizzy drinks
4. Energy drinks
9. White bread
13. Ice cream
14. ‘Fat free’ salad dressings