When the days are dark and cold, many turn to comfort foods for solace. Although the definition of comfort food can vary, typically it tends to denote food high in carbohydrates (esp. starches and sugars). Lasagne, hearty pies and grilled cheese sandwiches readily provide much needed feeling of happiness and warms. So how does it work?
Firstly, carbohydrates support production of serotonin, a chemical that helps you feel content and secure.
Secondly, carbohydrates stimulate release of endorphins. Did you know, that “endorphin” stands for “endogenous morphine”? As the name suggests, endorphins are compounds produced by our own bodies (i.e. endogenously), which closely mimic opiates in their structure and mode of action. Similar to opiates (e.g. morphine or codeine), endorphins bind to opiate receptors in the brain, triggering the feeling of well-being, joy and relaxation.
Despite their remarkable ability to alleviate negative moods, sugary and starchy foods play havoc with your blood sugar levels. In the long run, frequent “self-soothing” with such foods can contribute to weight gain, mood swings, headaches, and even insulin resistance and cardiovascular issues.
For that reason, in the next couple of posts, I‘d like to share some tasty and satisfying comfort food recipes, that will bring you some cheer, without taking toll on your health. Stay tuned.