Advertisement

Why does comfort food make us happy?

I'm not convinced it makes us "happy". It is reinforcing - so it may make us feel "good" - or satisfied, and sugar is known to set off the dopaminergic reward pathways - so cigarette, cocaine or cookie - it's all comfort. Comfort food is also ASSOCIATED with something happy - a birthday party, grandparent, childhood, vacation - it is our associations with that time, and food is something that reminds us of the time. Too often we conflate happiness with comfort, and in the case of comfort food may be sort of misusing food to soothe ourselves to unhealthy results. Cupcakes are soothing, tasty, and comforting - just comfort in moderation.

Comfort food makes us feel happy psychologically as opposed to physiologically. When we eat comfort food, we tap into good memories, conjuring up birthdays by eating chocolate cake or our mom's Sunday dinners by making her lasagna. Because they're linked to memories, comfort foods vary for each person, but there are some links among genders. One study found that women tend to like sugary, sweet foods like ice cream while men like savory foods like soup and steak.

Continue Learning about Emotions

Combat Feeling Sad with a Good Memory
Combat Feeling Sad with a Good Memory
Do you ever find yourself feeling sad but don't know exactly why? Tempted to just brush past it? Well, don't. Understanding the source of your sadness...
Read More
Can the sounds of laughter make a person involuntarily laugh?
Discovery HealthDiscovery Health
Back in 1999, the magazine Time labeled the laugh track one of the 100 worst ideas from the last cen...
More Answers
How is envy destructive?
William StillmanWilliam Stillman
Envy is destructive because its central focus is on that which you do not have such as a person deem...
More Answers
Is Habitual Anger Unhealthy?
Is Habitual Anger Unhealthy?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.