Is comfort food a myth?
Eating a piece of cake may seem like it can fix any problem—but that comforting feeling is all in our minds, according to a new study from the University of Minnesota. Turns out that time, not comfort food, heals all wounds.
In the research on the effectiveness of comfort foods participants chose two types of foods: types they thought would help ease their bad mood, and types they didn’t think would affect their mood. They then watched a 20-minute video to trigger feelings of sadness, anger and fear. After the video they recorded how they felt both immediately after viewing and three minutes after. During these three minutes, participants were offered their comfort food of choice, a granola bar, or nothing. When the experiment was repeated, they were offered other types of food.
Right after the video, participants were upset. However, three minutes later, participants felt better, regardless of what food they ate or if they ate at all. These findings may provide insight into how people cope and may help people see that they don't need to turn to unhealthy foods to get through tough times because it really doesn't do them any good. It’s important to note the experiment was conducted in a lab setting, free of common stressors. Next the researchers plan on testing the role of comfort food with social stress.