It’s no shock that the UK’s adoration for takeaways has seen the industry soar over the decades. Now with the help of food delivery services such as Uber Eats, Food Hub and Deliveroo, it’s never been easier to have our favourite cuisines delivered to our door. This research from Inn Supplies shares so much you may not know about cravings.

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Back in 2019, the UK takeaway industry was valued at an incredibly high amount of £8.5 billion, this being a significant contribution to not only the economy but our taste buds too. Although takeaway food is notorious for not being the healthiest meal preference, it is a treat we all like to indulge in every once in a while.

Other than the ease that takeaways offer, they also act as a form of ‘comfort food’ for many of us too. For those rainy days in the house that make us feel down, or for those challenging days at work that leave us feeling stressed, many use food as a way to eat their emotions away. With this in mind, we discuss the extent of comfort eating in the UK and just how much takeaways play a part in this.

The science behind cravings

Although we are quick to assume that indulging in takeaways and fatty foods are nothing more than a craving that we can’t ignore sometimes, there are actually some biological factors that suggest why we turn to food for comfort sometimes.

It all starts with three hormones – dopamine, cortisol, and serotonin.

Put simply, dopamine can kickstart cravings for our favourite takeaway foods. One study found that some people in the UK dedicate more mental energy per day towards food than what they do for their tasks at work! With this said, thinking about our favourite treats can trigger dopamine in our brains, since we begin to think of something that provides us with some short-term happiness. Ultimately, proceeding to fulfil this craving satisfies the dopamine surge that’s been on our minds.

As for cortisol, this is the main stress hormone that can take its toll on our chain of thought. Not only that, but it also affects how our bodies deal with protein, carbohydrates, and fats we store too. Therefore, whenever we’re feeling slightly stressed or anxious about something, cortisol kicks in, acting as a catalyst for our fatty-fuelled cravings that the likes of takeaways are renowned for pleasing.

As for serotonin – commonly referred to as the ‘happy hormone’, it is found to have an indirect effect on our desire for comfort foods. Although serotonin isn’t in food, the likes of tryptophan is. This is an amino acid that is found in foods such as chicken, turkey, eggs, cheese, and fish. Other than that, it’s found the likes of carbs and chocolate, which can boost serotonin levels too – all common additions to our most desired takeaway meals.

Food for thought: more than just a takeaway

It’s reported that over 22 million takeaways and fast-food meals are consumed in the UK per week – proving to be the desired choice of cuisines across the whole nation. So, why is it love seeing those takeaway food boxes arrive at the door? There are several explanations as to why this could be.

Food or nostalgia?

Binge eating on the likes of takeaways or fast food tends to trigger happy memories from our past. Whether this is how you spent family nights in front of the TV as a child or those times your grandparents bought you treats just for the sake of it, turning to takeaways as a source of nostalgia is another reason we give in to food cravings.

Eating can act as a time filler

Sometimes emotionally driven eating can be as a result of both boredom and stress. Although the process of ordering a takeaway and consuming it requires minimal movement, it is still something to keep us occupied for a short amount of time. For when our days at work are dragging, or when there’s nothing on the TV to keep us busy, binge eating our favourite meals provides a sense of escapism from our current activities.

The go-to means of celebration

A lot of the time, the reasons used to justify those family meals out or quick drives to our favourite local takeaways are because a cause for celebration has popped up. Since we associate celebratory events with treating ourselves to our favourite foods, we use these foods to define a moment of joy or excitement that has been derived from another event in our life.

Regardless of what your reasonings are for giving in to those takeaway cravings every once in a while, there are plenty of reasons as to why comfort food is the go-to solution to our problems, stresses, and celebratory moments too!

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