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Why Comfort Foods Bring Comfort

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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Written by Dr. Dave Hnida CBS4 Medical EditorIf you’ve ever been bummed out, and tried to self-medicate with a quart of double mint chocolate chip, you’re not committing culinary malpractice.

A new study shows comfort foods do more than just satisfy the taste buds — they literally change your brain chemistry to bring you out of the mental lowlands.

The research comes from the Journal of Clinical Investigation where researchers analyzed brain function via special scans in people who were depressed … and then got the equivalent of comfort foods pumped into their systems.

They found, within minutes, a jump in feel good chemicals, and increased brain activity.

Sounds like a better alternative than medication, but I guess you’ve also got to take calories (and fat) into account when self treating with something yummy.

Other research shows some gender differences when it comes to comfort food. Both men and women find happiness in ice cream, mashed potatoes, and mac and cheese. Then there’s a little bit of a fork in the road to the fridge.

Men tend to love pizza, tacos. and spaghetti to perk up. Women reach for chocolate, cookies, and chips when in need of a boost.

Bottom line- good stuff for the palate — good stuff for the mood — not the best stuff for the waistline. But as with everything, a little can go a long way to make you feel good. So does a little common sense when you dose your self-prescribed comfort foods. Enjoy, and feel better!

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