Written by Amy Morton on June 16, 2023
Have you ever found yourself reaching for a tub of ice cream or a bag of chips when you're feeling down or stressed?

Well, you're not alone! Many of us turn to food for comfort in times of emotional turmoil. But have you ever wondered why comfort eating feels so darn good? It turns out that endorphins, those magical feel-good chemicals in our brains, play a significant role in creating that numbing escape we seek.

Comfort eating goes beyond simply satisfying our hunger. It serves as a way to escape from negative emotions and temporarily numb our pain. The endorphins released during comfort eating create a soothing effect, helping us forget our worries for a little while. As B. A. Gosnell and A. S. Levine highlight in their research on reward systems and food intake, there is an overlap between mechanisms mediating drug reward and palatable food reward (Gosnell & Levine, 2009). This suggests that the rewarding aspects of highly palatable foods can mimic the self-administration of addictive drugs, providing a numbing escape from emotional distress.

While comfort eating may provide temporary relief, it's essential to recognize that it's not a healthy long-term coping strategy. Overindulging in comfort food can lead to weight gain, health issues, and a never-ending cycle of emotional eating. Tanja C. Adam and Elissa S. Epel emphasize in their review on stress, eating, and the reward system that chronic stress can contribute to increased food intake and visceral fat accumulation (Adam & Epel, 2007). Comfort eating can become a maladaptive response to stress, hindering our ability to develop healthier ways of coping and addressing the underlying causes of our emotional distress.

Boost Endorphins Naturally:
When it comes to boosting endorphins naturally, there are several strategies we can incorporate into our daily lives. One way to enhance endorphin production is by incorporating the amino acid DPA (D-Phenylalanine) into our diet or through dietary supplements. Studies have shown that DPA can optimize endorphin levels (Kitade, et al. 1988) and promote a greater sense of happiness and contentment.

In addition to DPA, incorporating foods rich in complete proteins can also support our bodies in synthesizing these essential neurotransmitters. Lean meats, fish, eggs, and legumes are excellent sources of complete proteins and can contribute to the production of endorphins.
Regular exercise is another powerful tool in boosting endorphin levels. Engaging in physical activity stimulates the release of endorphins, leading to a natural high and a profound sense of well-being.
Exploring alternative therapies like acupuncture has also shown promise in stimulating endorphin production. Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points in the body, which can help restore emotional balance and promote the release of endorphins.

By combining these strategies, such as incorporating DPA into our diet, consuming complete proteins, engaging in regular exercise, and exploring alternative therapies, we can effectively boost our endorphin levels. This, in turn, can help us address the underlying emotional triggers that lead to comfort eating and promote a greater sense of well-being. 

If you are struggling with binge eating, it is important to remember that you are not alone and that help is available at The Binge Eating Recovery Coach. Here, you can find a program that is tailored to your biochemical needs and can provide the support and guidance you need to overcome binge eating. Don't wait any longer, take the first step towards recovery today by watching our case study testimonial videos and learning from those who have successfully overcame these issues. Together, we can break the cycle of food addiction and reclaim our lives. Get the free case study video training here.

Adam, T. C., & Epel, E. S. (2007). Stress, eating and the reward system. Physiology & Behavior, 91(4), 449-458. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2007.04.011.

Gearhardt, A. N., & Hebebrand, J. (2021). The concept of "food addiction" helps inform the understanding of overeating and obesity: YES. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 113(2), 263-267. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqaa343.

Gosnell, B. A., & Levine, A. S. (2009). Reward systems and food intake: role of opioids. International Journal of Obesity, 33(Suppl 2), S54-S58. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2009.73.

Kitade, T., Odahara, Y., Shinohara, S., Ikeuchi, T., Sakai, T., Morikawa, K., Minamikawa, M., Toyota, S., Kawachi, A., Hyodo, M., et al. (1988). Studies on the enhanced effect of acupuncture analgesia and acupuncture anesthesia by D-phenylalanine (first report)--effect on pain threshold and inhibition by naloxone. Acupuncture & Electro-Therapeutics Research, 13(2-3), 87-97. doi: 10.3727/036012988816358705. PMID: 2904213.

Amy - The Binge Eating Recovery Coach

Amy specializes in supporting women in overcoming binge eating and associated challenges such as food cravings, obsessive thoughts, emotional eating, mood swings, and weight gain. Through her unique holistic and biochemical approach, Amy guides her clients in repairing addictive brain chemistry using natural methods. By addressing the root cause, Amy's methods offer a pathway to attain permanent freedom from binge eating.
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