Study: Bad moods lead to bad food choices
Published 12:50 pm, Thursday, March 27, 2014
Anyone who has downed a pint of ice cream to cope with a breakup has reason to believe that moods influence what we eat. Now a new study offers evidence to back that up, showing that bad moods often lead to bad food choices and vice versa.
People in a series of experiments were asked to read a happy or sad story, or write about things that made them happy or sad. The participants then were shown ads or photos of foods that were healthy, such as vegetables, fruit, granola bars or rice cakes, and of foods that were unhealthy, such as candy, potato chips or cookies. In one experiment, researchers then gave the participants plates of raisins and M&Ms to eat as they liked.
The results, which were published this month in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, showed people were more likely to choose healthy foods if they were in a good mood and junk food if they were in a bad mood. In the raisin and M&M experiment, the good-mood group ate 77 percent more raisins than the bad-mood group.
The researchers theorize that people in bad moods seek tasty treats to make them immediately feel better, whereas people in good moods are more forward thinking, wanting to eat healthfully for future well-being.
"The take away of this study is you can change your mood and eat better," Dr. Brian Wansink, a co-author and a professor at Cornell University said in a statement. "Before a snack or meal, think of something that makes you happy or grateful, and you'll eat less and better."