Whether you've had a bad day, watched a sad movie or just need a mood boost, comfort food as we know it seems like the ideal remedy. After all, what's easier than indulging in a big bowl of something warm and cheesy/gooey/chocolate-y? Sure, these foods might not be ideal for artery health, but the reprieve in mental and emotional health is often worth the splurge.
Well, Traci Mann, a professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota psychology, is here to burst your mac-n-cheese bubble. According to a recent study by Mann published in Health Psychology, food doesn't actually seem to have any effect on your mood.
After showing clips of sad movies to 100 college students, the researchers served comfort food to half. The remaining students were also fed, but not something they would consider comforting.
When asked how they felt after eating, all of the students said they felt in better spirits — regardless of what they ate. Mann saw the same results from a second experiment in which half the students were given comfort food and the other half ate nothing.
As David Levitsky, a professor of nutrition at Cornell University, told NPR:
"The idea that we can feel better by simply consuming certain foods is very appealing … but in actuality, feeling better has nothing to do with the food itself, and it's a very weak psychological effect."
Does this news upset you? How about a nice, comforting grilled cheese sandwich to make you feel better? Or better yet, how about a few deep, mindful breaths?