We have all been guilty of comfort eating at one point or another but when we are chowing down on that tub of ice cream we don’t give much thought to why we are actually doing it or if it is really helping. Well, you may be pleased to know that scientists have recently discovered that ‘comfort’ food does actually have a physical/molecular effect which helps to lift our mood, possibly explaining why it is that some individuals gain weight when they are feeling low or vulnerable.
The team of researchers were led by Dr Lukas Ouden from the University of Leuven in Belgium, and their study involved using MRI scans to gage the emotional impact and response to fat which was injected into the stomach.
The participants were 12 individuals of a healthy weight, all of whom were shown a series of sad or neutral images and were exposed to sad and neutral music before the study began for the purpose of lowering their mood.
After this the researchers went on to insert saline or fatty acid into the stomachs of each volunteer, without letting them know which solution was which. Injecting the solutions in this way meant that there was no chance the participants happiness could be affected by the sensory stimulation of eating food, nor would they associate eating a certain food with a happy time and experience comfort from the memory.
The results showed that the individuals who consumed the fatty acids had lower levels of sadness (around 50%) than those who consumed the saline, leading the researchers to conclude that fat helps us to feel less sad emotions even if we remain unaware of the fact we are eating it.
Researchers hope that the findings will be used in the future to help those affected by eating disorders, obesity and depression.
If you are feeling unhappy and have found yourself to be eating for comfort then dealing with what is making you unhappy could be at the centre of solving your problems. Hypnotherapy for depression can help individuals to eliminate the root cause of their unhappiness, and can also retrain the brain to react differently to negative stimuli. This simply means that if an argument with raised voices used to make you reach for the ice cream tub, a hypnotherapy practitioner will help you to replace this action with another which is more positive. If you would like to find out more, please visit our hypnotherapy for depression fact-sheet.
View the original Daily Mail article.