The findings published in the journal Appetite have implications for better understanding how social factors influence our food preferences and eating behaviour.

"Comfort foods are often the foods that our caregivers gave us when we were children," said psychologist Shira Gabriel from University at Buffalo in New York.

"As long we have positive association with the person who made that food then there's a good chance that you will be drawn to that food during times of rejection or isolation," Gabriel pointed out.

The study suggests suggests why certain foods are attractive when we are feeling down.

"Because comfort food has a social function, it is especially appealing to us when we are feeling lonely or rejected. The current study helps us understand why we might be eating comfort foods even when we're dieting or not particularly hungry," she noted.

Comfort food is defined as food that helps people find comfort. For some of the study participants, comfort food was a healthy food choice, for others, it was starchy and fatty.

"For a lot of people it is the food they grew up eating," Gabriel pointed out.However, this method of filling social needs is not without risks. "Although comfort food will never break your heart, it might destroy your diet," Gabriel said.

 

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