It is a Myth that Comfort Foods like Ice Cream Boost Your Mood: Research

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
May 26, 2014

Since their inception, ice creams and chocolates have always been humans’ friends, especially with those going through difficult times. Be it relationship problems, work stress, PMS, or Monday morning blues, we just can’t wait to gulp down that ice cream tub or relish our favourite chocolate and instantly start feeling elated. But, this feeling could just not be true and just a fragment of our imagination!

comfort foodsPsychologists say that the idea that eating certain foods makes us feel better when we are down may be a myth. In fact, it’s just a matter of time that we start feeling better on our own about something that is bothering us, regardless of what food we eat.

“Whether it is your comfort food or it is a granola bar, or if you eat nothing at all, you will eventually feel better. Basically, comfort food cannot speed up that healing process,” explained Heather Scherschel Wagner, a doctorate candidate from University of Minnesota.

During the study, researchers asked the participants to pick foods that they believed would make them feel better if they were feeling low. It could be anything from cookies, to ice cream, to chocolates. They were also made to choose foods that they liked but didn’t think would improve their mood.

The participants then watched a 20-minute video intended to elicit feelings of sadness, anger and fear. As expected, participants were in a bad mood immediately after watching the video. Three minutes later, their mood improved, regardless of whether they had their comfort food, another food, or no food at all.

Before the study was conducted, the researchers believed that there was something to eating comfort food, said Wagner.

The new findings suggest that people may not be helped by turning to unhealthy foods, high in calories and fat, when they're down. "People can develop these very unhealthy habits, where they just immediately reach for these yummy foods when they feel sad," Wagner said. If people find that they do actually feel better without eating comfort foods, that might stop this unhealthy pattern of behavior, she said.

However, the study was conducted in a lab setting, so the findings may not hold true for the variety of stressors that people experience in the real world, such as stressors that occur over a long period of time. The researchers plan to conduct another study to see if comfort foods help people with social stress, such as the stress of feeling socially excluded.

Source: Live Science
Image Courtesy: Getty

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