Does Comfort Food Actually Comfort You?
Comfort food can help us through times of sadness or stress, right? Wrong says Heather Scherschel Wagner, a doctorate candidate at the University of Minnesota. Scherschel says the idea that these food is just the antidote to make us happy again may be a lot of bunk. To prove her point, Wagner had participants pick favorite comfort foods like chocolate, cookies or ice cream, along with a food they enjoyed although not necessarily one that would boost their mood, such as a granola bar. The participants later watched a short video intended to make the viewer angry, fearful and sad. They rated their feelings after watching the video, which put them in bad mood, and then ate a comfort food, a granola bar or were given nothing to eat. Three minutes later, the mood of the participants brightened -- in all cases. Wagner and her team were surprised but the bottom line was food didn't necessarily affect their moods, adding, "Basically, comfort food can't speed up that healing process." The finding is important, according to Wagner, because people may be eating unhealthy foods to excess when they don't have to.