Uncomfortable Facts About Comfort Food

Uncomfortable Facts About Comfort Food

Comfort food.  Ah, macaroni and cheese, pie, jelly donuts, bread pudding….the list goes on and on.  These types of foods, while triggering sensory memories and feelings of comfort, can actually have the opposite effect.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, along with members of the department of psychiatry at Columbia University studied the dietary glycemic load and carbohydrate impact as it relates to depression in post-menopausal women.  These women were participating in the NIH-Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study over a 5 year period.

When carbs are consumed, the blood sugar level increase depends on the type of food eaten.  The higher on the GI (glycemic index) measures, on a scale of 0-100, the amount of sugar in the blood after eating. Not surprising, the more highly refined the food is, for example, white bread, soda, white rice, the higher the trigger for a hormonal response.  This hormonal response may cause fatigue, mood swings or changes and other symptoms of depression.  The researchers found that higher consumption of processed sugars and refined grains were also associated with new cases of depression in post-menopausal women.

As the holidays approach, it is tempting to indulge in traditional comfort foods more often.  The holidays can also be a time of increased anxiety and stress for many.  To combat mood swings, feelings of melancholy and other undesirable symptoms, choose foods such as vegetables, whole grains, fruits (whole, not juice), whole foods.  Also be on the look out for hidden sugars and processed carbs in sauces, casseroles and other multi-ingredient dishes. Research suggests that making these small changes can act as preventative measures against depression.

As always, it is important to check with your Doctor if you are experiencing feelings of depression, or any other health issue.


Reference:  https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/whi/




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