If you just experienced a messy breakup, for example, it might be tempting to seek comfort in the form of your good friends, mac and cheese. But according to a new study, comfort food doesn’t actually make a difference.
In a study published in Health Psychology, researchers first asked participants to indicate their favorite comfort foods. Then, during two lab sessions a week apart, the participants watched depressing movies. After one session, participants were served their comfort food. After the other session, participants were served either an equally enjoyable non-comfort food, a neutral food or no food at all. Researchers measured short-term mood changes to determine the psychological effects of food, rather than biochemical effects such as spiking blood sugar.
Participants who ate comfort foods did feel better. But so did the participants who ate non-comfort foods. And so did the participants who ate no food at all. All subjects got over their bad moods in an equal amount of time.
Researchers speculate that we just start to feel better naturally… and that people may be giving credit to comfort foods where no credit is due.
So the next time you’re not feeling great, know that you don’t need to sacrifice your health or fitness goals to feel better. That bowl of carrots and celery is just as effective as Häagen-Dazs.
P.S. If you need help or guidance to create a meal plan that supports your goals, download Davey Wavey’s Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter.