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.

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