To What Extent Does Comfort Food Ease Anxiety?
Bad days, break-ups, or stress-filled meetings may have you craving some comfort food to ease your anxiety. But don't reach for that chocolate bar just yet.
Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at PCMag.com where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker
Bad days, break-ups, or stress-filled meetings may have you craving something to ease your anxiety. The usual remedy? Comfort food. But David DiSalvo of Forbes has found evidence that may give you pause before reaching for that chocolate bar or Quiznos toasted sub.
You may think your cheesy or chocolatey treat is a home-remedy for the blues, but the after-effect you're experiencing is just a placebo effect, according to a recent study published in the journal Health Psychology called “The Myth of Comfort Food.”
The research group sought to find out if comfort foods really help provide some kind of emotional boost. In the study, researchers asked the participants what their favorite comfort foods were. After a week had passed, the volunteers watched a 20-minute film designed to inflict feelings of sadness. Afterward, participants received either their favorite comfort food, no food, or non-comfort food.
One thing became immediately clear: The participants felt better after they ate the comfort food and non-comfort food—even when they didn't eat anything. The healing ingredient wasn't consuming food—it was time. Co-author Heather Scherschel Wagner, a doctorate candidate at the University of Minnesota, explained:
“Whether it’s your comfort food, or it’s a granola bar, or if you eat nothing at all, you will eventually feel better. Basically, comfort food can’t speed up that healing process.”
The study concludes that our society has the group mentality that comfort food has some kind of healing effect that make us happier in tough times:
“Individuals may be giving comfort food 'credit' for mood effects that would have occurred even in the absence of the comfort food.”
The process of munching on your favorite snack may distract you from your woes, momentarily, but relieving your anxiety may require you to re-frame comfort foods into comfort actions. In a recent IdeaFeed post, we wrote about a study that revealed productive ways to tackle a day gone bad. The remedies ranged from taking a walk to calm your mind to putting yourself in a different mindset and rethinking a stressful moment as an "[opportunity] for growth or advancement". These may be more productive remedies than a fatty placebo.
Read more at Forbes
The stories we tell define history. So who gets the mic in America?
- History is written by lions. But it's also recorded by lambs.
- In order to understand American history, we need to look at the events of the past as more prismatic than the narrative given to us in high school textbooks.
- Including different voices can paint a more full and vibrant portrait of America. Which is why more walks of American life can and should be storytellers.
A glass of juice has as much sugar, ounce for ounce, as a full-calorie soda. And those vitamins do almost nothing.
Quick: think back to childhood (if you've reached the scary clown you've gone too far). What did your parents or guardians give you to keep you quiet? If you're anything like most parents, it was juice. But here's the thing: juice is bad for you.
Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club
- Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
- It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
- This ability may come from a common ancestor
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.