The Science Behind Why You Crave Comfort Foods When Stressed


We’ve all been there: a long and stressful day, and all that we want is a big bowl of macaroni and cheese or a tub of ice cream. But why is that? Why do we crave so-called “comfort foods” when we’re stressed out? The science behind this craving is a bit complex, but it is clear that there is a correlation between stress and comfort food.

To understand the science behind why we crave comfort foods when we’re stressed, it’s important to first understand what comfort foods are. Generally speaking, comfort foods are foods that we associate with positive memories and that give us a sense of pleasure and emotional satisfaction. These foods typically have a high fat, sugar, or starch content and can include things like macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and ice cream.

So why do we crave these kinds of comfort foods when we’re stressed? It turns out that when we’re in a state of stress, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. This hormone is produced by our adrenal glands and is responsible for regulating our body’s stress response. When cortisol levels are elevated, it triggers a series of biochemical reactions in the brain that can cause us to crave certain types of food. Specifically, these cravings are for foods that are high in fat, sugar, and starch.

These comfort foods also have another benefit: they can help to reduce levels of stress. Studies have shown that when people are under stress, eating certain foods can actually help to reduce their cortisol levels. This is because the ingestion of comfort foods encourages the release of brain chemicals that can help to relax us and reduce our stress levels.

It’s also important to note that when we’re stressed, our appetite can be increased. So not only do we have an increased craving for comfort foods, but we also have an increased appetite for them. This can be especially dangerous if we don’t keep our consumption of comfort foods in check. Eating too much of these kinds of foods can lead to weight gain and other health complications.

In conclusion, it is clear that there is a science behind why we crave comfort foods when we’re stressed. The brain releases hormones that can trigger cravings for certain types of food, and these comfort foods can also help to reduce our stress levels. However, it’s important to remember to practice moderation when it comes to comfort foods, as over-consuming them can lead to negative health consequences.

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