Comfort food provides well-being

By Lilly Payne

It is no secret that consuming healthy foods can lead to a happier life. However, there is reason to believe that specific foods can affect certain moods. These are not the presupposed comfort foods like chunky monkey, garlic knots, or your mother’s homemade specialty. Those affect your mood too, but because they trigger happy, comforting memories.

Food chemically triggers different parts of your brain, for instance serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, which means that it is a chemical responsible for relaying messages within your brain. Serotonin is linked to happiness, while low levels are correlative to depression, anxiety, and aggressiveness. Though this chemical is produced in the brain a large part is actually supplied by one’s digestive tract.

So what should we be eating? There are lots of foods that fall into the serotonin boosting category. Dark chocolate is great, really. Not only is it delicious, but consuming 1.5 ounces enhances your mood because the cocoa boosts serotonin levels. It’s also important to aim for foods high in omega-3-fatty acids. These are foods such as fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, soybeans, spinach, walnuts, enriched eggs, and guacamole.

However though there are many good foods the bad foods are forever tempting. The main culprit being sugar. Sugar, sugar, sugar. I myself have a ginormous sweet tooth, and can pack away two pints of ice cream, 12 cookies, a few cupcakes, and pizookies with a cherry on top like nobody’s business. That’s not the proudest of accomplishments considering what it does to your mood.

After eating all of that crap, you feel like crap. Sugar brings on fluctuations in blood sugar leading to mood swings and a lack of energy. Not to mention that it’s addictive. Sugar triggers dopamine, which is the main reward chemical in your brain. Dopamine is also triggered by drugs. Don’t let sugar be your drug, instead reach for a banana. Bananas contain 10 milligrams of dopamine.

So next time you’re having a bad day reach for a banana, dark chocolate, or guacamole. Don’t let food get you down.

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