Dr. Denton Weiss on Curbing Comfort Food and Learning to Live Beautifully
In the end, the desire for comfort food is tied heavily to the stressful world we live in
Dr. Denton Weiss explains why we are so drawn to those "comfort foods", what we should do when the urge strikes, and how we can develop a way of life that enables us to be fully human as well as truly healthy in body, mind and spirit. A way of living he calls beautiful living!
PORTSMOUTH, VA (Catholic Online) - Dear Dr Denton: I really love your articles, but I have the hardest time staying on a healthy diet. HELP!
The summer is quickly upon us. The smells we associate with fun fill our backyards as grills are fired up and festivities multiply. All of our senses seem to be born anew with the lengthening of the day, including the gift of taste. This resurgence of sensual experience is prompted by the beauty of the sunshine.
I rush home after a busy day at the office and put on those old jeans and my over-worn cotton teeshirt. Comfort clothes- now all I need is some COMFORT FOOD! I know shame on me! Dr D you are leading the world down the road of momentary mental and physical bliss ...WHY? How could you, when your patient just asked for guidance!
I just can't help myself... It's beautiful outside, the summer is come and I want to eat something "good". Once in awhile I need some mac and cheese, thick buttery potato soup, a plate of nachos smothered in cheese and sour cream, ior something from the grill that is, well, fattening!
Sometimes... I just need a beignet from the French Quarters with a cup of chocolate coffee MOCHA. Sometimes... I just need to be alone with my food and not feel a bit guilty about what's in it!
The KEY? SOMETIMES.
BUT WHY do I love comfort food?
Ah how I do love you sweet thick oatmeal right before bedtime. OK so I've lost myself in food bliss. Hey, I am human. Off to the treadmill in the morning, but tonight pleasure foooooooooooood, and maybe one hot toddy!!
In the winter the summer sun has left us and cold air chills our bones. The pressure of the Christmas season and the financial burdens we place upon ourselves are at their peak. The bodies Vitamin D, and serotonin levels drop, while cortisol levels increase.
Vitamin D plays a role in bone production and our immune system. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that plays a role in sleep patterns, mood, and physical energy levels. Cortisol is our stress hormone that is great in small doses but has deleterious effect at constant high levels.
Our bodies don't want to be depressed, they want to be euphoric, happy, at peace. We were designed to live life and live life fully = beautifully! Unfortunately, the stress of the winter season leads to lack of sunlight, poor sleep patterns, excessive alcohol intake, and feelings of brokenness and fatigue from financial worries.
So, when Spring breaks into summer we can also tend to overdo the celebration. We associate food with life, and understandably so. However, we are the ones responsible for our own choices, including what we eat.
It doesn't matter how much money you make the human condition is the same. We often place these and other stressful factors on our plate. So why do I want that comfort food? Come on, sometimes I am feeling sorry for myself and want that immediate gratification my brain gets from those carbs! Sometimes I simply associate that food with a happy memory.Spring and summer are This is a time for renewal.Start fresh - and with good cheer.
Some interesting facts about Comfort Food (Food high in processed carbohydrates and fat) are found by examining their effects on the brain. Carbs have the ability to force the brain to increase serotonin levels. That warm sleepy feeling you get after the sugar high from refined sugars is in part due to the serotonin release and loss of sugar from the responding insulin surge. You know guys, that.. I am going to watch a little football after dinner snooze.
Researchers from UCSF recently presented data indicating why we love comfort foods. From the US comfort food capital of sour dough bread and Ghirardelli chocolate comes some fascinating answers to stress, comfort food, and tummy weight gain - in that order.
The UCSF research looks at the response to stress on an animal model. Rats were exposed to a chronic stress. The rat's initial response was an increase in the release of the stress hormone corticosterone (in humans this equates to cortisol). The rats then began eating high energy type foods, high in fat = lard, and carbohydrates = sucrose. With time, the rats developed abdominal obesity. Interestingly, the greater amount of abdominal fat appeared to diminish the deleterious effect of corticosterone on the animals.
We know that chronic stress leads to many deleterious effects on the body. Weight gain, depression, obesity = type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even loss of brain tissue. If we transfer the animal study to humans the facts are frightening. Stress in the acute phase leads to the fight or flight response. We become extremely alert, ...
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