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Comfort Food and Sex

Comfort Food and Sex

Mashed potatoes and a roll in the hay? Yes, please! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that pleasing the senses can make us feel good–but is there more at play than just pure pleasure?

According to researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC), the answer is a pleasing-to-the-ears “yes.” Pleasurable pastimes reduce stress by inhibiting anxiety responses in the brain. Hello hedonism, good bye nerves.

The findings were published online this week in PNAS, the official journal of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Our research identifies key neural circuits underlying the comfort food effect, notes the study. “Further research is needed, but identification of these circuits could provide potential strategies for intervening to prevent or curtail increasing rates of obesity and other metabolic disorders. Food, sex and other pleasurable activities actually work to inhibit stress for up to 7 days.

The findings present a clearer understanding of the motivation for consuming ‘comfort food’ during times of stress. Interestingly, the research show that even small amounts of tasty foods can reduce the effects of stress, indicating that the pleasurable properties of foods, not the caloric properties or nutritional elements, were sufficient for stress reduction.

So the next time you’re feeling anxious, reach for some pie or your honey (or some pie and your honey) and give your nerves a nice pleasant break.

Start relieving stress today:
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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


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6:25AM PDT on Mar 27, 2012

Thank you

4:09AM PDT on Mar 27, 2012

Carey, do you mean real bacon or such a fat man?

4:08AM PDT on Mar 27, 2012


2:32PM PDT on Apr 10, 2011

@Carey - makes me laugh. Chocolate is best, or cream - well, each to their own LOL.

10:11AM PDT on Apr 10, 2011



10:14AM PDT on Mar 15, 2011

I agree that exercise also helps, like yoga and meditation. But a nice glass of red wine with a favorite book, and some comfort food is fine, too!

3:12AM PST on Jan 18, 2011

This reminds me of "9 1/2 Weeks" movie...

3:11AM PST on Jan 18, 2011

This reminds me of "9 1/2 Weeks" movie... ;)

9:11PM PST on Dec 31, 2010

Dan L wrote: "Instead of eating pie, go get some exercise! It will make you a better person."

How about reading a serious book or learning something new? We all need both physical and mental exercise.

12:38PM PST on Nov 25, 2010


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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