RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—If you think that a cookie, a cheeseburger, or a bowl of mac and cheese helps you calm down during a stressful day, you’re actually right. Comfort food really does (temporarily) halt the physiological effects of stress. According to researchers, eating sugar- and fat-rich foods helps bring down levels of stress hormones. While it’s not a healthy long-term solution for dealing with stress, in a pinch this approach sure can work. And by using your own comfort-food recipes instead of grabbing prepackaged foods, you can even make the food a little healthier.
Other studies of the food/mood link have found that eating fat can calm you and lessen your perception of pain. And carbs really do boost mood. For example, if you’re feeling down, a high-carbohydrate snack, such as a toasted English muffin with jam or some popcorn, can work wonders. When high-carbohydrate food isn't accompanied by protein or fat, it allows the amino acid tryptophan to flood your brain, where it becomes serotonin, a mood-lifting, food-craving–busting neurotransmitter that even helps you tolerate pain and can help you get to sleep.
Read on to see recipes for turkey sliders, mashed potatoes, and more comforting foods.
Published on: February 8, 2010
Updated on: March 11, 2010