Is There a Correlation Between Pizza and Happiness?

Friday Feb 24, 2017

Are you the kind of person who does a song-and-dance when your pizza delivery arrives? Do you find yourself becoming overly excited as you’re about to dig into your slice of pie? There may be some science to back up why you are so excited about eating pizza.

Your Brain Seeks Out Pleasure

The pleasure center of the brain contains dopamine-producing neurons that activate at the sight, smell, and memory of food. Certain foods, primarily those that include sugar, fat, and salt, provide dopamine more often than their healthy alternatives. The reasoning for this release of dopamine goes back to the hunter-gatherer instincts of humans. The human brain is programmed to find sustenance, food that will keep you full for as long as possible. Therefore, by seeking out those “pleasurable” foods, the brain is merely rewarding your for finding that sustenance.

Not All Foods Will Make You Happy

While foods that have sugar, fat, and salt give you pleasure, it will only last for a little while. Furthermore, these foods are engineered to make you want more, so that the dopamine reward your brain is getting continues.

How Some Foods Can Make You Happy

Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, is an important aspect of food and happiness. Lack of serotonin has actually been linked to depression. Tryptophan, an amino acid commonly found in turkey, is also recognized for its role in helping create serotonin. If you’re looking for foods that will make you happier, you could seek out foods that contain serotonin and tryptophan.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Protein, which is also found in turkey, can actually block tryptophan.

Research indicates that what you need for food to make you happy is complicated, but having a well-rounded diet can help. By providing your body with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and protein, you can indulge in those pleasurable foods.

Drawing Pizza Can Make You Happy

While there is not a direct correlation between eating pizza and happiness, there is one if you’re just drawing pizza. A study based out of St. Bonaventure University in New York asked participants to draw foods with different levels of fat and sugar to measure their mood. The mood of those who drew pizza improved by 28%.

Next time you’re looking to find some pleasure after a tough day, draw your favorite slice of pizza or better yet, order one.

Sources:

http://firstwefeast.com/eat/2014/06/science-of-food-and-happiness

https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887323936404578580032939763200