Comfort Food Myth Debunked

Comfort Food Myth Debunked

When you go through a difficult time in life, odds are you reach for that one “comforting food” that makes everything better. While it’s long been thought that comfort food has a positive impact on the mind, helping us to heal from different emotional events, recent studies show different. Actually, researchers found that comfort foods are not any better at lifting a down mood than any other type of food, as it’s all just a myth. If you tend to reach for a Hershey’s bar every time things go south, continue reading on and see why you’re only adding calories, not smiles.

New study

According to the most recent study on comfort food conducted at the University of Minnesota, comfort food does nothing more for your mental health than any other type of food. Actually, the research group said that a lot of people give comfort food way more credit than it deserves, often attributing their mood lift to the comfort food when it would have occurred either way.

The researchers stated that while it may feel as of your bad or depressed mood is helped with comfort food, bad mood naturally dissipate overtime. When comfort food is used to lift the mood, people will associate the lift with the food, but the lift would occur with or without it. This was proven when the leader of the study, Mann, and her research group described four experiments that were conducted.

The experiment

Mann and her team used participants to examine the comfort food myth during a two week span. The first two sessions were scheduled a week apart, and consisted of 100 students. The students were asked to watch a 18-minute video which consisted of clips, each known to trigger different feelings of anger, sadness, anxiety, and fear. The students were then given the comfort food they had chosen during the intake portion of the study. The second group of students, also consisting of 100 people, were presented with the same video clips, yet were offered with a regular food like nuts and almonds.

While eating the foods, the participants were provided with a survey, asking questions about comfort food, and if the participants felt that eating their chosen comfort food, or alternatively, not eating it would make a big difference. Those eating the comfort food stated that they felt confident that by eating their comfort food their mood would improve significantly.

The results showed that both groups experienced the same improvements in mood, showing that comfort food doesn’t make a difference. It is, however, suspected that food in general may play a role in mood improvement, but further studies must be conducted to see if the relation holds true.

Connection to diet and weight loss 

Those involved in the study feel that eliminating the need for comfort could have a positive impact on dieting and weight loss, because people no longer have an excuse to eat bad food to improve their mood. While it could take some adjusting, those who learn to eat healthy as an alternative to comfort food will have the same positive results. As a result, they will have an easier time sticking to diet plans and reaching weight loss goals.