”Your Diet Is A Bank Account, Good Food Choices Are Good Investments.” – Bethenny Frankel
It is currently hypothesized that people like indulgent foods when in a negative mood as such mood is more focused on current pleasures like flavor and experience of the senses, and current concerns like fixing mood.
Contrarily, people like healthy foods when in a positive mood as such mood is focused on better health promotion and long-term well being.
Connection between mood and food choices
Even though many studies have been carried out to test the connection between mood and food selection, the relationship between positive mood and food habits is still not completely clear.
- Some studies suggest that individuals in good mood tend to go for nutrient rich foods which are low in salt, sugar, and fat along with increased weightage to long-term advantages of eating such healthy meals.
- Some studies show that people with future-oriented long term thinking and goals tend to make healthy food choices irrespective of the current mood. Other research gives evidence to the tendencies of people in good moods to opt for healthier foods if they believe that the current positive mood will last. If they do not feel that the mood will last, then they are more likely to go for comfort foods to maintain the mood.
- There is proof about gender differences in how mood affects the food choices. Studies have shown that women have a tendency to consume comfort foods when feeling lonely, depressed, or guilty. Men on the other hand tend to reward themselves with pasta, soups, and steaks for the upbeat state of their minds.
Main studies showing the link between mood and food choices
- One study checked the effects of good mood on assessments of healthy and indulgent foods. Participants in good moods assessed healthier foods more positively as opposed to those in a control group who went for comfort foods.
- Another study investigated the effects of negative and positive moods on assessments of healthy and comfort foods. Participants who were in a happy mood had more favorable evaluations of healthy foods as compared to comfort foods, while those in bad moods had more positive assessments of indulgent foods than healthy ones. Also, unlike subjects in negative moods, those in good mood replied in the positive about staying healthy as they grew older.
- Another study looked for the effects of bad and good moods on future-focus and present-focus and its impact on intake of foods. It was found that the ratio of comfort foods to total consumed foods was higher in participants in present-focus situation as compared to those in the situation of future-focus.
- Another study checked health benefits verses enjoyment aspect of the impact of mood on food intake. The study had subjects in negative, positive, and neutral moods along with temporal present-focus and future-focus construal scenarios. It was found that subjects opted for healthier dishes when all dishes in the set had a combination of indulgent and healthy foods as compared to when a dish with just comfort food or dish with just healthy food were added to the set. Subjects with future focus conditions opted for dishes with greater amounts of healthy foods as opposed to participants in present-focus condition.
Different studies have shown that just like food affecting the mood, your current mood can also affect your food choices. The emotional component can’t be ignored, so it’s important to evaluate the long term benefits and harmful effects to both types of foods the next time you’re faced with a choice.
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