The Science Behind Comfort Foods — and Delicious Alternatives to Get You Through the Winter

From ice cream after a breakup to creamy soup on a gloomy winter day, we often turn to food to feel better — and it's usually not salads and veggie trays. More often, we seek out foods that are rich in fats and carbohydrates. A.K.A. comfort foods.
 
What Are Comfort Foods and Why Do They Help Me Feel Better?
 
It's common to eat less healthy foods as a kind of antidepressant when you're feeling down. This can be a result of:
  • Memories of being comforted by certain foods in the past, especially a child
  • The mood-boosting effect on the brain from sweets, such as chocolate
  • Your body's desire to fuel up with carbs to fight off stress
 
The more often you eat junk food to battle the blues, the more likely you are to become
depressed or anxious down the road — which will only increase your desire for more comfort foods.
 
The Impacts of an Unhealthy Diet
 
Comfort foods may get you through a gloomy winter, but they can have serious consequences later in life. Poor nutrition can lead to:
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Certain types of cancer

 

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Should I Completely Ban Comfort Foods?
 
A healthy diet is all about balance, and enjoying a little comfort food once in a while is okay. In fact, completely avoiding comfort foods could lead to feelings of deprivation — which can trigger an eating binge.
 
While opting for healthy alternatives is a great start to a healthier lifestyle, it's also important to avoid always turning to food when you need a pick-me-up. Train your brain to rely on healthy mood-boosters, such as exercise, time with friends and family, or volunteering. Your body — and your mind — will thank you in the long run.
 
Do you have questions about maintaining a healthy diet? Call 610-738-2835 to discuss nutrition counseling at Chester County Hospital.

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About this Blog

Chester County Hospital's Health e-Living Blog offers a regular serving of useful health and lifestyle information for the residents of Chester County, PA and the surrounding region.

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