Most people are guilty of using food to stave off their feelings of guilt, worry and sadness. This is referred to as emotional eating; and it works. Everyone knows the sitcom scenario where the woman has a broken heart and heads immediately for the freezer, where she binges on a pint of her favorite ice cream. This is not something that only happens on television; when people feel sad, upset or depressed they often reach for their favorite comfort food to help them feel better. This is because many foods have the ability to change a person’s mood by increasing chemical levels in their body. In short, what you eat plays a big role in how you feel.
One food that can help you to feel better is coffee. The reason for this is that the caffeine levels in coffee provide you with the ability to focus better, think sharper, and it improves your mood in addition to giving you more energy. Foods containing chocolate and sugar have ingredients called anandamines and phenylethylamine, which have a drug-like effect on a person. This has a big influence on your good mood, making you feel happy and relaxed. Carbohydrates have a positive effect on the production of serotonin on the brain, which improves a person’s mood.
With so many good foods causing you to feel so good about yourself and your situation, you may be tempted to pick up a big bag of your favorite chocolates on the way home today. Before doing that, understand that there are negative effects to be had with “mood food.”
It is tempting to pick up one of those bite size candy bars from the candy dish the next time you feel down, but it is important to note that the positive effect eating chocolate has on you is offset by an even bigger negative effect. Oftentimes, it is difficult to stop after just one bite size piece of delicious chocolate. If you can, then by all means go ahead. But if you are one of the millions of people who cannot stop at just one, stop and think before you eat. Most of the time, your feelings of sadness are temporary. This means that it won’t take you long to snap out of your bad mood.
By making the decision to binge on junk food because it makes you feel good, you are running the risk of making yourself feel even worse. While you may feel good while you eat an entire bag of chocolate, you are going to experience feelings of guilt when you are finished. Using food to curb your bad feelings is a form of overeating and can lead you to feel guilty, depressed and gain an unhealthy amount of weight.
Handling Your Moods
Food may temporarily improve your mood, but it will not change your feelings of sadness or depression; it will only make them worse. Food will not make you happy during a difficult time. However, a healthy diet in conjunction with regular exercise, exposure to sunlight and open communication with your loved ones can make you feel happy. If you can eat your chocolate and other tasty treats in moderation, there is no reason to deprive yourself. Your morning coffee and a decadent dessert after dinner is a great way to improve your mood without making you feel guilty. Using food to improve your mood is not a bad idea, if you are using it the right way, which is to eat healthy. Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels, including bite size chocolates.
Richard Hasson, immediately after finishing psychology at Washington university he started working for www.newyorkstatedivorce.com where he helps people who are going through tough divorce. His passion is writing, and main subject of his articles are depression, self-help, losing weight, feeling better about yourself.