Food that brings you comfort might be anything at all. French fries, cheeseburgers, ice cream, candy, and chocolate all fall under the “comfort food,” typically defined as a dish heavy in carbohydrates, sugar, or fat.
Due to their high fatty acid content, even objectively healthy foods like salmon, tuna, and almonds can be comfort foods. Mood-altering effects of comfort foods have been scientifically confirmed by their ability to stimulate the same brain region responsible for processing feelings and emotions.
Only since the 1960s or so has the concept of “comfort food” existed. Only after The Washington Post used the term about a featured holiday meal in 1977 is when comfort food began to gain traction. After that, comfort food in NYC and other cities got popular.
Although the term “comfort food” is relatively new, the concept is far older. It is a sensation everyone is familiar with, whether it was triggered by a dish your grandmother prepared or a to-go burger your father used to take you to. Just remembering the delicious meals your parents or grandparents used to train you when you were a youngster might be reassuring.
Why Is Comfort Food So Comforting?
Your brain’s reward system is activated by foods heavy in carbohydrates, sugars, and fats; this is why you find them soothing. It may come as a surprise, but indulging in a favorite comfort meal can stimulate the same pleasure and reward pathways in the brain as doing so with drugs or alcohol. There are reasons you may be desiring certain unhealthy meals more often than you’d like, and it’s not always stress or a passing fancy.
The mood is believed to be controlled by the brain’s hippocampus, insula, and caudate regions. These three regions are active in studies of actual food cravings.
The brain’s memory, reward, and pleasure circuits are all located here. You may have less say over your desires than you’d want, but you may be able to alleviate them by making dietary changes. The frequency of cravings can be drastically reduced by maintaining a nutritious diet rich in complex carbohydrates, sweets, and healthy fats.
Are the Cravings for Comfort Food Normal?
Yes! Everyday food cravings affect more than 90% of adult males and females. The kinds of desires you’re experiencing are relatively common, too. Most individuals often suffer from the same unhealthy cravings for processed, sugary, and unhealthy fat-laden meals.
For some reason, sweets like chocolate and candy seem to be more of a weakness for women than men, whereas savory foods are more of a go-to for men when they desire something. You’re not alone in the struggle to control your urges, even though we know how annoying it may be when they keep winning.
A home-cooked dinner or a piece of chocolate is what you need to take your mind off the stresses and worries of everyday life. Your desires are typical, whatever they may be.
Keep in mind that a healthy diet and regular exercise may do wonders for curbing your appetite and food cravings. There’s a good reason why comfort food in NYC and other cities is so popular; occasionally, indulging in one won’t hurt you.