Have you ever reached for comfort foods when you’re feeling down in an attempt to feel better, even if just for a moment? Or, are you the person that goes to the kitchen when life spirals out of control? If so, you may just be making your bad times worse.
What Research Says
In a recent study released by Penn State University in the U.S., it was uncovered that there is a direct correlation between food and mood. They followed 131 college aged females and had them log at different times throughout the day how they felt and their eating behaviours. What they found was rather surprising.
If the subjects ate unhealthy foods when they were feeling down, their negative feelings became worse. However, if they ate junk-type foods when they were happy or positive, there was no marked effect on their feelings. What does this mean?
“Comfort Foods” May Not Provide Comfort
One way to interpret these findings is that what was traditionally thought of as “comfort foods” don’t actually provide comfort. Sure, you may have a moment or two of relief from whatever feelings are bothering you, but the moment you are done eating them you’re not only left with the realities of life, but now you also have the guilt and shame of your overeating behaviours.
Essentially, you have now compounded your problem and added more negative emotions to it. Now, instead of just feeling bad about your situation, you feel bad about yourself too and unfortunately this puts you in a worse position than you were to begin with.
So, what can you do if you want to reach for food when you’re feeling sad, anxious, frustration or any other negative emotion? Find something to do that actually resolves how you’re feeling.
For example, if you’re lonely, join a group that interests you. If you’re worried about an upcoming project at work, prepare yourself the best you can and then let it go. Take care of whatever is plaguing you so that you don’t have the desire to continuously go to the kitchen for food instead.
Remember that food will never resolve non-food issues. It just can’t. Learn to deal with your emotions without eating and you’ll be much happier in the long run.