Study: Comfort Food is a Myth

Many of us turn to familiar standby food items to soothe negative feelings. A new study suggests the rejuvenating value we place on these "comfort foods" may be misappropriated.

Study: Comfort Food is a Myth

Sometimes after a long day at work it's nice to just sit back, relax, and let Ben & Jerry do their magic. And although eating an entire pint of Chunky Monkey is pretty unhealthy, it's allowable because it's your comfort food and being in a good mood is worth those extra calories. Right?


Not so fast, says a new study published in Health Psychology:

"Although people believe that comfort foods provide them with mood benefits, comfort foods do not provide comfort beyond that of other foods (or no food). These results are likely not due to a floor effect because participants’ moods did not return to baseline levels. Individuals may be giving comfort food “credit” for mood effects that would have occurred even in the absence of the comfort food."

Oh goodness. All that Chunky Monkey for nothing?!

As Tom Jacobs of Pacific Standard writes, the authors of the study conducted four experiments in which, on separate occasions, distressed subjects were fed their comfort food, a liked-but-not-loved food, a neutral food, and no food. After analyzing questionnaires filled out by the subjects, the researchers determined that similar improvements in mood occurred across the board, independent of what each subject consumed, if they consumed anything at all.

The researchers concluded that the effects of comfort food on one's mood is a myth, something of a placebo effect. This strikes against commonly-held beliefs (like 81% of the test subjects) that eating favorite foods makes you happier. It also means that one of our final fleeting excuses to keep eating junk food may be disappearing faster than that last bite of Ben & Jerry's. 

Read more at The Week

Here's a link to the study at PsycNET from the APA

Photo credit: mjsomerville / Shutterstock

3,000-pound Triceratops skull unearthed in South Dakota

"You dream about these kinds of moments when you're a kid," said lead paleontologist David Schmidt.

Excavation of a triceratops skull in South Dakota.

Credit: David Schmidt / Westminster College
Surprising Science
  • The triceratops skull was first discovered in 2019, but was excavated over the summer of 2020.
  • It was discovered in the South Dakota Badlands, an area where the Triceratops roamed some 66 million years ago.
  • Studying dinosaurs helps scientists better understand the evolution of all life on Earth.
Keep reading Show less

The cost of world peace? It's much less than the price of war

The world's 10 most affected countries are spending up to 59% of their GDP on the effects of violence.

Mario Tama/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Conflict and violence cost the world more than $14 trillion a year.
  • That's the equivalent of $5 a day for every person on the planet.
  • Research shows that peace brings prosperity, lower inflation and more jobs.
  • Just a 2% reduction in conflict would free up as much money as the global aid budget.
  • Report urges governments to improve peacefulness, especially amid COVID-19.
Keep reading Show less

The evolution of modern rainforests began with the dinosaur-killing asteroid

The lush biodiversity of South America's rainforests is rooted in one of the most cataclysmic events that ever struck Earth.

Velociraptor Dinosaur in the Rainforest

meen_na via Adobe Stock
Surprising Science
  • One especially mysterious thing about the asteroid impact, which killed the dinosaurs, is how it transformed Earth's tropical rainforests.
  • A recent study analyzed ancient fossils collected in modern-day Colombia to determine how tropical rainforests changed after the bolide impact.
  • The results highlight how nature is able to recover from cataclysmic events, though it may take millions of years.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast