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The psychology of comfort food - why we look to carbs for solace

https://theconversation.com/the-psychology-of-comfort-food-why-we-look-to-carbs-for-solace-135432

theconversation.com

The psychology of comfort food - why we look to carbs for solace
Gathering supplies and indulging in sweet baked treats can make us feel better temporarily. Why do we seek out certain foods in times of stress and should we give in to cravings?

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Emotional eating

Emotional eating

Emotional eating occurs in response to stress, and in people who restrict their food intake.

Eating sweet and fatty foods may improve mood temporarily by making us feel more energetic and happier, but when comfort food becomes a habit, it comes at a cost, such as weight gain.

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Emotional distress causes overeating

Poverty is associated with psychological distress, including depression and lower mental well-being.

Employment insecurity, financial difficulty, and hardship due to a global crisis are more likely to turn people to emotional eating as a way of coping.

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When baking becomes a trend

The theme of baking has become strong on social media with hashtags such as #QuarantineBaking.

Research suggests there are benefits from baking, including boosts in socialisation, self-esteem, quality of life, and mood. Cooking alongside children may also promote healthy diets.

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Stress can prevent you from keeping a healthy weight

Stress can prevent you from keeping a healthy weight

Stress can prevent you from keeping a healthy weight.

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Cortisol and sugar cravings

With increased levels of cortisol, your body is supplied with glucose for energy, and your body signals the need for extra sugar.

The downside of eating sugar is that your body tends to store sugar, especially after stressful situations, as abdominal fat. The vicious cycle continues: stress, cortisol release, craving sugar, weight gain.

Cortisol and metabolism

Cortisol slows down your metabolism, decreasing your ability to lose weight.

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Describing a food craving

Describing a food craving

A food craving can be described as an intense and sometimes uncontrollable desire for a specific food. This desire can leave a person unsatisfied until they have tasted that particular food...

Why we crave food

Food cravings occur in the same regions in the brain as memory, pleasure, and reward.

  • Physical hunger develops over time, and you will desire a variety of different foods. Emotional hunger comes on suddenly and is usually for a specific food that makes you feel good while eating it.
  • Emotional eating can turn into a bad habit. Food provides satisfaction. When you experience satisfaction, your brain is flooded with dopamine, which motivates you to keep eating to feel good.

Eliminating the pleasure gained from food

Research revealed that the brain's underlying desire for sweet can be removed by manipulating the neurons in the amygdala. By manipulating the connections to the amygdala, we might lack the basic emotional reaction to taste.

It's like eating your favorite chocolate cake, but not getting enjoyment from doing so. This study could be groundbreaking in treating certain eating disorders.

Acknowledge your weight gain fears 

Besides the health and economic crises we are facing, there are individuals who, due to the media, are also fighting their own fears to gain weight during the quarantine. 

One of the mos...

Control your eating habits, quarantine or not

Everybody seems worried that, during the ongoing pandemic, they will gain weight. 

However, a recent review has shown that individuals tend to gain the weight back after a diet in less than five years, even during regular times. Therefore, quarantine or not, you should pay attention to your eating habits, if you want to have a certain weight.

Emotional eating

While quarantined at home, we all have the tendency to eat foods that trigger that feeling of safety and happiness, that only by consuming these vary foods we can experience. 

As nice as this idea might sound, you should also try sleeping or spending virtual time with your friends, as these can work wonders as well.