Why Does Eating Feel Soothing?
If you have a peaceful and soothing feeling after eating fatty foods, there is good news. This is a natural reaction, and not necessarily an inability on your part to stick to your diet. But exactly why does eating food feel so soothing sometimes? And when you are stressed out, why does a dose of chocolate or a bowl of ice cream make you feel better? The answer may surprise you.
Dr Lukas Van Oudenhove works at the University of Leuven, in Belgium. He led a team of scientists in a research project to explore the emotional reaction that human beings have to fat. 12 healthy volunteers had their brain waves monitored as they were shown both sad and neutral images, and as they listened to neutral and sad music.
Those test subjects then were given either fatty acids or saline. The volunteers were not told which of these 2 chemicals they were receiving. When showed sad images or played emotionally dreary music, those who consumed fatty acids were shown to be 50% happier and upbeat than those who received saline.
And those findings mirror the evidence found in countless studies of the relationship between food and mood. There is a definite link. Eating is usually accompanied by some type of aroma. The smell of green apples can actually help alleviate headaches, because it works on your brain’s pleasure and pain receptors.
Coconut actually calms down your “fight or flight” response, and lowers your heart rate. This soothing feeling is also delivered by peppermint, which can be added to your foods to help limit your feelings of hunger as well.
And while much processed chocolate packed into candy bars and other sweets is not healthy for you, naturally unprocessed dark chocolate reduces your levels of cortisol. That is the hormone most directly linked with causing stress, so you feel less anxious and more at ease with just a small bite of chocolate.
Unfortunately the way your brain responds to fatty foods, which I mentioned earlier, is also triggered when you eat an abundance of carbohydrates or starches. Your system slows down, you feel relaxed and content, and you may even want to take a nap.
There are foods which make you feel calm and peaceful without any negative consequences, like green apples and coconut. Just be careful to limit the amount of fats, starches and carbohydrates you get in your diet, because these “feel good” foods can lead to obesity, heart problems and other health risks.