When we feel low, we tend to turn to
comfort foods that are high in carbohydrates. There are some iron
natures out there that can control their appetites with an impeccable
will power. I believe these admirable people are few and far between. I
am certainly not one of them.
The term “comfort food” itself is rather young. It was added to the
Webster’s Dictionary in 1972 and is generally defined as “food that
gives a sense of emotional well-being,” or “any food or drink that one
turns to for temporary relief, security or reward.” Everybody has his or
her favourite dishes, but I dare state they date back to our childhood.
Most comfort foods are high in carbohydrates and in fat. Fat transports
aroma and leaves a rich feeling on our tongue. Carbohydrates make us
There is a big difference between good and bad carbohydrates. Bad
carbohydrates are sugar, white flour, white rice – substances that our
bodies immediately convert into sugar. They give us a quick high, a
spike in blood sugar levels, followed by a low, which makes us crave for
The good carbohydrates are found in whole grains, legumes, vegetables
and fruit. Our bodies need longer to digest these complex carbohydrates.
They don’t supply a sugar high, more a long lasting, mellow feeling of well being.
Scientists discovered that carbohydrates of all kinds lead to higher
serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is one of the neurotransmitters
that make us feel good. Low serotonin levels seem to be a major factor
Our bodies produce insulin to deal with carbohydrates and resulting high blood sugar levels. Insulin binds a lot of amino acids (proteins)
in the tissues, but it ignores tryptophan, which is left floating
around. Tryptophan is the building block for serotonin. Thanks to a spike in
insulin levels, there is more tryptophan available in the blood stream and our bodies can produce more