Can food make us happy?

People often report cravings for particular foods, and that eating certain meals makes them happy. As a species, we evolved to make eating a pleasant experience, encouraging us to seek out high-calorie food to sustain ourselves when food was scarce.

The human brain has developed reward pathways associated with eating fat and sugar, which release mood-enhancing neurotransmitters, like dopamine and endorphins. Probably the most-studied example is chocolate, which contains phenylethylamine and this affects the body’s opioid production.

Comfort food, on the other hand, works more psychologically, and the pleasant feelings that it induces are often linked to sight, smell and taste, which can trigger a sense of nostalgia.

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