Killing Me Softly: Eating for Comfort

Happiness is something we all want, and it’s something that can be easily obtained at least temporarily. For many, a quick trip down to the local fast food establishment for a delicious meal of saturated fat and fried foods is all they need for a quick pick-me-up. After all, hopping into your auto and popping down to the nearest Macca’s to get your fix is super easy.

Comfort Food: The Cause of Happiness

You know how it goes; you’ve been having a stressful or depressing day and suddenly the craving hits. Your salivary glands begin pouring, and you can just taste your favourite foods dancing across your taste buds like carbohydrate-loaded fairies. Giving in to temptation, you grab what you’ve been wanting, and it seems to soothe your soul, causing your mood to explode in a momentary burst of happiness and ecstasy.

But what causes this? The consumption of certain foods, in particular carbohydrates, can cause the pituitary gland to release serotonin, a chemical that can cause you to feel really good. Other foods can release endorphins, which is another “feel-good” chemical. Of the two, serotonin often has a more immediate effect, giving you a stronger feel-good buzz.

But What About Exercise?

Many people who exercise say that it makes them feel good. They are quite possibly right as exercise also releases endorphin. Of course, exercise also comes with a few downsides as well, namely sore muscles, sweating and the actual need to get up and do the exercises. And who wants all that bother? Endorphin isn’t even as strong as serotonin, so really you’re cheating yourself out of a stronger sense of satiation and feeling good.

But Doesn’t Over Eating Have Side Effects?

Nutritionists claim that eating too much unhealthy, or what we like to call “comfort,” foods has various negative side effects. These scientists claim that eating too much of a good thing can lead to a wide variety of health issues and diseases. These same scientists use big scary words like “heart disease,” “diabetes” and “obesity epidemic” as examples of the conditions that can develop from eating too much fast food. Even worse, many health insurance companies agree with these scientists and take a healthier lifestyle into account when determining the cost of insurance premiums.

It takes years to develop diabetes or heart disease, and one simply does not become morbidly obese overnight. Meanwhile the positive effects, the happiness and lifting of mood, resultant from eating these so-called comfort foods are immediate and can be experienced almost as soon as the delicious morsels touch your tongue. While this immediate gratification might seem like a good thing to many, the long and hard road of healthy living is much preferred in the long run.

Long Life or Instant Gratification?

The final choice is, of course, yours. You must decide if you wish to go the route of instant gratification, filling up on cheap, processed food just to immediately satisfy your cravings. While this may be cheaper in the short run, it can lead to more expensive health problems in the long run as well as more expensive health insurance premiums. On the other hand, by practising a healthier lifestyle, including exercise, you will find that while the food may be a little more expensive, you will live a longer, healthier life. While the release of serotonin might be more powerful than endorphin released while exercising, you can still get a great, uplifted feeling in addition to the other health benefits of exercising. You must choose wisely, for you have but one life to live and must decide how you want to make the best out of it.

Image courtesy of SteFou!/flickr.com

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