Comfort foods = feel good, at least at first
Comfort foods, sugar, candy, cake. We generally feel great while eating them. When we are feeling sad or have a bad day, eating them temporarily makes us feel better. The reason that we feel better is that these foods release the hormones serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which are our happiness hormones. So it’s no surprise that when we do feel sad our first reaction is to turn toward food, specifically the food that has made us happier in similar situations. We’ve learned over our lifetimes that our comfort foods are a quick and easy fix to move us toward a better mood and alleviate the stress from our day.
However, when we are working toward long term health, and fitness, this habit of eating highly palatable, calorically dense, nutrient sparse foods works against those long term goals. In fact, it even works against long term mood and happiness. In short, it’s a brutal cycle of feeling the need to eat foods that make you better in the moment but make you feel awful in the long term as they erode your health and fitness levels if over consumed. Given how stressful modern life is, and how easy those foods are to overconsume (by design), it is no surprise that our journeys toward health always seem to be detoured by stress and the accompanying stress-eating.
Feeling good, and feeling full, by turning up the volume
There is good news though. It is possible to create some of the same feelings without overindulging in foods that will likely lead you in the opposite direction of your goals.