Most Common Comfort Foods and Why We Crave Them

Here are some of the most common comfort foods and why we crave them

Some comfort foods are associated with food addiction. These are foods that we crave often and sometimes indulge in, especially if we are upset. Feelings like stress, anxiety, anger or fear can cause us to reach for our go-to comfort foods. In some ways, they make us feel better.

What is it about these foods that draws us in? They typically aren’t foods like spinach or green beans. They are usually processed and hit certain taste buds, like sweet, salty and creamy. They are delicious and full of flavor, so we want more.

Why We Love Comfort Foods

We don’t just love our favorite comfort foods because they are delicious. Actually, there is a lot of science behind why we crave these foods. To put it simply, they ignite our brain’s pleasure center. When this happens, our brain releases a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine makes us feel good and gives us a “high.” Some people find it similar to drugs or gambling.

We haven’t always craved these foods though. Over time, portion sizes have grown and processed foods are easier to find. They also have more sugar, sodium, fat and carbs. Humans have adapted to love these types of foods.

Here are some of the most common comfort foods:

  • High in Sugar: Cakes, cookies, syrup, sodas, pastries, candy bars, fruit juices, energy drinks, ice cream and even sweetened coffee.
  • High in Carbs: Cereals, rice, pasta, bread, potatoes, corn, fried foods
  • High in Salt: Potato chips, popcorn, pretzels, dips.

More specifically, when we are upset, we reach for foods like macaroni and cheese, pizza, peanut butter, mashed potatoes, fried chicken, pancakes, burritos, sandwiches, dessert, chips and dip, burgers and tacos.

Identifying a Problem with Comfort Foods

When we eat more of these foods than what is considered “in moderation,” food addiction might be a problem. This can lead to weight gain and other health conditions. It can also cause problems with someone’s social life, finances, schedule and mental health. Here are some symptoms:

  • Eating more food than intended
  • Spending a lot of time dedicated to food or recovering from it
  • Eating food regardless of consequences
  • Social or work consequences due to eating
  • Tolerance
  • Failed attempts to limit food intake
  • Feelings of powerlessness

Although there is still much to be learned about comfort foods and food addiction, it is a serious problem. Our environment makes comfort foods easy and cheap to get. Think about snacks at convenience stores or fast food restaurants around every corner. Convenience and low costs draw us in.

The best thing you can do is educate yourself and pay attention to your own food habits. Mindful eating is very helpful with this. Also remember that comfort foods aren’t always “bad.” They can be eaten in moderation, as long as they aren’t eaten on a regular basic and affect your health. For more information, CLICK HERE.

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