Is Comfort Food Causing Your Depression?

By

Is Comfort Food Causing Your Depression? [EXPERT]
Does that Happy Meal really make you happy?

Well, it's official. There is now absolutely zero reason to be eating fast food whatsoever! For those of you who always knew that fast food wasn't healthy but ate it anyway because it made you feel happy, I have some unfortunate news.

A recently published study in the Journal Of Public Health Nutrition showed that people who ate hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizza were 51% more likely to suffer from depression than those who rarely or never ate the stuff. Yikes! Sticks & Stones: Could You Withstand A Verbal Attack?

Do you get what that means? It means that your Happy Meal might not be making you very happy. In fact, the food that you may have been turning to when you were feeling sad, lonely, or depressed is actually contributing to those feelings.

How can this be? After all, eating junky food is supposed to give you comfort and cheer you up, isn't it? Who hasn't turned to pizza and ice cream after a bad break-up? Who hasn't eaten a whole basket of fries when you felt lonely?

Well, this brings me to one of my favorite analogies: You can't fill the bathtub by running the kitchen sink. Bear with me for a moment, won't you? 5 Ways To Avoid Spring Holiday Weight Gain

Whether you want to call it "emotional eating" or "eating your feelings" or "medicating with food," the truth is that many of us use food for reasons other than nourishing our cells.

We celebrate with food, we mourn with food, and we often turn to food when things just aren't going our way. We have grown very accustomed to using food as an antidote to our emotions.

There are two reasons we do this to ourselves:

1. It kinda, sorta works.

We're not totally misguided here. Fast food and junk food is loaded (I mean, loaded) with sugar, fat, and salt, which really do change your brain chemistry. These substances — sugar, fat, and salt — really will make you feel 'happy' in a chemical sense. There is evidence showing that sugar has the same effect on your brain as cocaine! Lifestyle: Hate Going To The Gym? Watch This!

So, if you eat food with a heaping dose of sugar, fat, and salt (like fast food) you will most definitely get a temporary, fleeting "hit" of faux happiness. The same would be true if you took a hit of heroin, but who thinks that that is a good way to manage your feelings? 

2. Sad feelings and hunger are easy to confuse.

Think about it. When you feel sad or angry or lonely, there's a certain gnawing in your gut. It feels empty and hollow — like something needs to be filled up.

Feelings of physical hunger — when your body is actually asking for food — can also feel like a churning emptiness. The sensations are similar. We run into trouble, though, when we can't distinguish between our emotions and just needing a sandwich. 5 Food Label Dealbreakers

This brings me to my analogy. Trying to soothe your feelings by eating fast food and pastries is like trying to fill up your bathtub by running the kitchen sink. It's never going to happen. One has nothing to do with the other. The plumbing is totally unrelated!

Ask The Experts

Have a dating or relationship question?
Visit Ask YourTango and let our experts and community answer.