“Whether it is your comfort food, or it is a granola bar, or if you eat nothing at all, you will eventually feel better. Basically, comfort food can not speed up that healing process,” explained Heather Scherschel Wagner, a doctorate candidate from University of Minnesota.
During the study, participants were asked to pick foods that they thought would make them feel better if they were in a bad mood.
They were also asked to pick foods that they liked but that they did not think would boost their mood.
The participants then watched a 20-minute video intended to elicit feelings of sadness, anger and fear.
As expected, participants were in a bad mood immediately after watching the video.
Three minutes later, their mood improved, regardless of whether they had their comfort food, another food, or no food at all.
According to Wagner, it makes sense that people would attribute an improvement in mood to something they ate, without realising that the food was not necessarily responsible for the mood change.
People like to find explanations for things, Wagner noted, adding that if people find that they do actually feel better without eating comfort foods, that might stop the unhealthy pattern of eating.