Comfort eating actually comforts

When I am a little stressed I want to eat – usually carbs – but if I am very stressed I lose my appetite. PA
I never lose my appetite because I’m an emotional eater – eat when I’m stressed, happy, bored . . .  From now on I’m calling it “Comfort Eating” – it sounds less . . . emotional . . .  and  is a new area of research. jw
For the second year in a row, just over a third of American adults reported eating “too much” or “unhealthy” food because of stress, according to an APA survey. Approximately 40 percent of people increase their eating when they’re stressed, 40 percent decrease their eating, and 20 percent stay the same. 

Dr. Janet Tomiyama has been trying to figure out if eating because of stress works for us.  Here is a summary of her findings:

  • Rats were given access to comfort food — usually Crisco mixed with sugar! 
  • Researchers then stressed them out
  • Over time, the comfort food actually dampened their stress hormones
  • Dampened down their brain’s responsivity to stress
  • Dampened down the signaling between the brain and the rest of the body, so they didn’t secrete as many stress hormones.”  

    CRISCO & sugar! At least they could have the decency to give us the cake under the frosting  . . .

We tend to be critical of people who eat because of stress BUT  “Not just psychologically, but also biologically — people who do a lot of comfort eating tend to show a reduced level of stress hormones and stress.”

What’s happening, according to Tomiyama:

  • “When you do anything that’s rewarding to you the reward parts of your brain light up — those parts of the brain can dampen down areas of your brain that are freaking out with negative emotion. And that’s why comfort foods tend to be foods that are high in sugar and fat. They’re really rewarding; they really do light up the reward centers of our brains.
  • There’s also some work showing that when you do comfort eating, it builds up fat in your belly region and that fat pad sends a signal to your brain to decrease the amount of stress hormones that you’re producing. 
  • Then there’s conditioning. If throughout your whole life, you’ve paired stress relief with comfort foods over and over again, then soon enough, your body is going to automatically respond to eating these comfort foods with relaxation.

Many people have had the experience of being given comfort food to cheer us up as kids. Part of the comfort t then came from bing cared for but that became associated with the food, which now gives us comfort on its own.

in addition to rodents, we also see comfort eating working in some non-human primate species as well. So my main take home from this is self-compassion: You’re not doing the comfort eating because you’re some sort of weak-willed human being; you’re biologically driven to do this. “ says Tomiyama.

What Tomiyama is trying to do now, is to see if healthy foods can also be comforting. Even in rat studies only unhealthy foods were used. Therein some data from surveys that say there are people who do use healthy foods for stress.

 “Nobody stress-eats strawberries, do they?”

Actually, strawberries might work she reports. Anything  sweet can dampen stress.

We’ll eat to that!

A. Janet Tomiyama, an associate professor of psychology and director of the Dieting, Stress, and Health Lab at UCLA

Stretching it from Fowl to Feline

Can Stretching Make You Happier?

Neuroscientists believe stretching our bodies is part of a brain-body feedback loop and can make you more relaxed and open to the world.  

There is scientific evidence to back up the claim that stretching on a regular basis can make you happier.

Changes within your physicality can profoundly affect your brain.

We all know the leg bone is attached to the hip bone.  We don’t often think about the fact that EVERYTHING in your body is attached by a tight suit of interconnecting fascia. Tightness in your legs affects the tension in your shoulders and stress that you hold in your hips can affect the muscles all the way up through your lower back and to your skull.

Besides causing a lot of aches and pains—which will put anyone in a bad mood—this tension can work along your brain-body feedback loop to create an undercurrent of anxiety or stress to all your moods.

Along with range of motion exercises and massage, gentle stretching is key for keeping things loose and lubricated. Stretching also provides additional neurological benefits like improving heart rate, blood pressure and hormonal regulation.

Feeling Fowl? – Do The Pigeon Pose

Pigeon Pose One

“Some stretches are more effective on our moods than others. Generally, we all hold a lot of tension in our hip joints, making pigeon pose an effective starter stretch for relieving stress and anxiety. The posture, which you can see explained in the video, helps to undo the damage of long term sitting and to release emotional tension. It lengthens the piriformis muscle, a small gluteal muscle that is often underused and too tight.

Pigeon Pose Two

Be aware: If a stretch is painful there is a lot of frozen tension present and you should be very careful, go slow and stop before it is painful.  Do not push beyond your ability. Preferably, take a yoga, or stretching class or get professional help.

However, if you are not in a fowl mood a cat stretch might be more to your ability . . . or even quicker and easier . . . 

. . . Read How to trick your brain into being happy to find out how stretching your smile muscles can make you feel happier.

What you see is what you get Charlie Brown

We humans tend to think that because people are capable of change they will change.  Most of us hope and wait for the other person to do the changing.

Maya Angelou said it most succinctly:

“When people show you who they are,

believe them.”

Lucy will NEVER hold the football for Charlie Brown in the comic strip “Peanuts” . . . because their creator is deceased.

Back pain: Blue and White Striped Pills are Best

Could taking a placebo, a pill which contains nothing but ground rice, really help cure back pain?

To find out, Dr Michael Mosley with experts from the University of Oxford embarked on Britain’s largest ever trial to investigate the placebo effect on chronic pain. 117 volunteers, all suffered with bad backs for years and felt their conventional medication, painkillers from Tramadol to morphine, gave no substantial relief. 

Some were asked to act as a “control” group. The rest were told that they were taking part in a study – where they might receive the placebo or a powerful new painkiller.

What they weren’t told was that they would ALL get placebos, capsules containing nothing but ground rice.

The pills were authentic looking and based on years of research. They were blue-and-white-striped, because that has been shown to have a greatest painkilling effect.  They came in bottles, carefully labelled, warning of potential side effects and reminding patients to keep out of the hands of children.

After three weeks, the volunteers went through another round of tests and questionnaires. Nearly half of the volunteers reported a medically significant improvement in their back pain from taking the pills – even though they were fake.

Additionally, the time they spent with the doctor had a substantial effect on the outcome, with people benefitting from having a longer consultation with their GP.

The power of the mind.

Studies show that the placebo effect is more than just a medical curiosity. The brain is actually capable of producing its own drugs which can be more powerful than prescription painkillers.

The characteristics of back pain sufferers who responded best to placebo treatment, found those who were most “aware” and “open to new experiences” had the most benefit.

The researchers also carried out brain scans and found anatomical differences in the “responders” and “non-responders”.

Among other things they found subtle differences in areas of the brain, like the amygdala, which controls emotion and reward.

What exactly this means, no one quite knows.

But University of Oxford’s Prof Irene Tracey says: ” . . .  just because a placebo contains no active chemicals, does not mean the effects of taking it are not real.” 

“The average person thinks that placebo is something that’s a lie or some fakery, something where the person has been tricked and it isn’t real.  But science has told us, particularly over the last two decades, that it is something that is very real, it’s something that we can see played out in our physiology and neurochemistry.”

Research has shown that taking a placebo can trigger the release of endorphins – natural painkillers that are similar in structure to morphine.

Where does this leave modern medicine?

A recent article in the British Medical Journal suggests that it can be ethical to prescribe placebos, as long as doctors are honest about what they are doing.

It pointed out there is mounting evidence, from a number of small trials, that placebos can work even when patients know that they are taking them.

BBC2 Horizon programme: Can my brain cure my body?

Mango Tango

This exotic fruit can be found in almost any supermarket, and its price is reasonable – especially in light of all the benefits.

Mango Tango by Peggy

The pulp of mango contains huge quantity of nutrients, almost the whole periodic table:


Also mango is rich in vitamin a composition: A, B, D, E, K, PP and high-dose vitamin C.  In some types the fruit pulp contains ascorbic acid . . . even more than the lemon.

Mango is not only delicious fruit, but also healthy

Медики назвали эффективный фрукт для профилактики рака


1. Vision
Mango flesh can help the optic nerve as it contains a high concentration of retinol which can help lesson various ophthalmic diseases such as night blindness, chronic eye fatigue, dryness of the cornea.

3. Immune system
Fruit, like mango, with a lot of Vitamin C can help to protect against respiratory illnesses. B- vitamins can help protect the body from free radicals which contribute to ageing.

4. Nervous system
The fruit contains a lot of vitamin b which is good for the nervous system functions which regulates stress and improves mood.

5. Urinary system
Mango is used in India as a medicine. It is prescribed for those who suffer from renal dysfunction and to protect the urinary organs from cancer.

2. Intestines

It is useful to those who suffer from constipation.

Researchers at the University of Texas studied 36 men and women diagnosed with chronic constipation. Participants were divided into two groups. One group ate 300 grams of mango every day.  The other group consumed the same amount of fiber in additives. The diet of all volunteers had the same calories and was identical in essential nutrients.

Both groups of subjects by the end of the test experienced less constipation.

The scientists noted that those who ate mango had considerably improved the composition of bacteria in the gut and had reduced inflammation. There was no effect on other symptoms, such as inflammation, in the group who took the additives of fiber and did not eat mango

6. Losing weight
Mango is a great fruit for dieters. It has a sweet taste and tender texture, cleanses the intestines and low in calories.


  • Pregnant women shouldn’t eat mangoes in large quantities. Mangoes contain a lot of vitamin A, which in high concentrations can seriously harm the fetus, including congenital malformations.
  • Mango rinds can be an allergen.  If you are prone to allergies, they should be excluded from the diet or be sure to clean the fruit from the rind.
  • Unripe fruits should be eaten in limited quantities. Even the most healthy person can form bowel disorders and develop diseases of the digestive tract. In addition, unripe fruit can cause throat irritation.

How to choose a mango
Hold the mango, checking the fruit for smoothness and firmness when pressed. The peel color doesn’t indicate ripeness, but merely indicates a grade. Even dark green mango can be ripe.

How to live to be 100: color your thumb GREEN

The “blue zones”, where people live the longest: Okinawa, Japan – Nicoya, Costa Rica – Icaria, Greece – Loma Linda, California and Sardinia, Italy have 4 things in common:

  1. Lots of social support
  2. Daily exercise
  3. A plant based diet
  4. People who garden into their 80’s and 90’s!

So is there a reason people with “green thumbs” live longer?

Gardening is a popular hobby, and something the world’s oldest living people have in common. “. . . the analogy of a chair: diet, physical activity, mental engagement and social connection are the four legs. If you’re missing a chair leg  you fall out of balance, and it can shorten life expectancy. Longevity isn’t about one single factor . . . “*Maybe you should take it up (if you haven’t already).

Keep your mood up

Being outdoors lifts your mood and moderate exercise is correlated with a longer life. Gardening gives you both . . . continually.   It doesn’t matter if you plant flowers, vegetables or hedges.  All gardens need tending, so people who garden get all the benefits of exercise and sunshine regularly.

There is evidence that gardeners live longer and are less stressed and studies show both physical and mental health benefits from gardening:

  • In a Dutch study, people who read for half an hour after having experienced a stressful task reported their mood had gotten worse, while those who gardened instead of reading, “not only had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol afterwards, they also felt “fully restored” to a good mood.”
  • Australian researchers found that people in their 60s who regularly gardened had a 36% lower risk of dementia than their non-gardening counterparts. Even people with cognitive issues benefit. Fresh air and sunshine have a calming effect.
  • In Okinawa, which has the highest ratio of people over 100, Dr Bradley Willcox of the University of Hawaii says it is believed there that  “anybody who grows old healthfully needs an ikigai, or reason for living. Gardening gives you that something to get up for every day.” Residents also value a lot of social interaction, such as sharing what you have grown at the local market.
  • People who are surrounded by lush greenery live longer, according to a Harvard University study. When you garden, you create greenery all around you. Even a small garden lets you be in touch with nature.

There’s a simple truth: gardeners are more likely to plant what they want to eat.

You are likely to eat more vegetables and fruit, which are a big part of the kind of diet that is associated with longevity.  And you know exactly what pesticides, if any, you have sprayed onto the food.

If you’re ready for a job change . . .

There’s evidence that farming is one of the healthiest careers.  Farmers:

  • have fewer chronic illnesses (by a third)
  • are less likely to see a doctor
  • are less likely to die of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes than the population as a whole.
  • work later into life
  • live longer

No land?  Buy container pots!

or move to Okinawa, Japan – Nicoya, Costa Rica – Icaria, Greece – Loma Linda, California or Sardinia, Italy


*Dr Bradley Willcox of the University of Hawaii studies

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