Eating can be a coping mechanism for people with depression or anxiety. Part of this might be because they don’t have enough of feel-good hormone serotonin, and eating comfort foods like pasta and bread can bring those levels up, says Holly Lofton, MD, weight management specialist and director of the medical weight management program at NYU Langone Medical Center. “You’re not treating depression with celery,” she says. “It’s whatever your mom gave you to feel good.”
During fight or flight mode, the stress hormone cortisol floods your body, which convinces your body to eat, even if you don’t physically need the calories, says Shanna Levine, MD, clinical educator at Mount Sinai School Medicine. “It’s not out of necessity, but cortisol tells your brain you’re not full,” she says. “That’s why stress causes people to overeat.” These are the best foods to eat when you’re stressed.