Bad mood. Bad food. Happy means healthy

Posted by on Mar 14, 2014 in dry mouth | 0 comments

Wow, I simply love the theme of this message. Study findings suggest that positive thinking can lead to healthier eating.

Consider this (which, I know to be true for me):

When you’re in a negative mood from stress, anxiety, frustration or even boredom, you may be more inclined to reach for comfort in the form of sweet and fat-rich foods. Not only do these types of food provide instant gratification but they have also been shown to trigger the release of insulin and endorphins to counteract the negativity (which of course, often returns in spades of guilt). So, researchers set out to understand the “why”underlying the association between bad moods and bad foods.

First, they looked at how a positive mood would actually influence the way that people perceived healthy foods (e.g. granola bars/candy bars, apples/cookies and rice cakes/potato chiops), with results indicating that people in positive moods tended to focus on long-term benefits like health, nutrition and future well-being. This was further supported by university students, whose moods were first manipulated for good or bad and who were then asked about their perceptions; as expected, the students who were in good moods liked the idea of healthy foods and staying healthy in their old age while those in worse moods tended to have less interest in health and more in indulging.

In a third experiment, the researchers once again manipulated moods and then presented the participants with plates of raisins and M&Ms, measured how much they consumed of each and then asked them how much they liked the snacks, how tasty and/or healthy they were and how enjoyable they were. Not only did people in bad moods eat roughly 20% more M&Ms, but there was a temporal aspect to the healthy versus indulgent behavior. Being in a bad mood tended to mean that there was a greater focus on the present (instant gratification) versus the future (weight gain) such that the ratio of M&Ms versus raisins eaten among present-focused participants.

Finally, it also appears that thinking about the future tends to lead to a greater consideration of more abstract benefits of the foods we eat (e.g. health, nutrition) and consequently, helps us make better food choices. However, even more important is that this temporal, present versus future consideration, can evenĀ modify our choices, even if we are in foul moods. And if we are in a bad mood? Well, researchers suggest trying to divert attention away from the urge to find gratification in bad foods and shift it to another activity that can brighten things a bit, activities like watching a movie or talking to a friend or listening to music.

The next time the urge hits? Pay attention to your mood, shift your focus and think about the future. Bad mood? Bad food!

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