Fact or Fiction: Comfort food makes us feel better?

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

That sugary food doesn’t make you feel as good as you think!

There’s something about eating unhealthy-but-yummy comfort food that’s just so… well, comforting! Whether you’re going through a broken heart or the loss of a beloved pet, nothing takes the emotional edge off more than some ice cream, fast food, or a bag of chips. Although that may seem true, a new study found that chowing down on delicious food has nothing to do with making us feel better.

Experimenters gathered a group of volunteers and made them watch a 20 minute video designed to trigger fear, anger, and sadness. When the video was over, researchers offered the upset participants either their favorite comfort food, a food item they liked, a granola bar, or nothing at all. The experimenters thought that those who received their favorite food would bounce back from the disturbing video much faster than the rest, but what they found was an absolute shock.

It turned out that all of the participants reported feeling much better after 3 minutes had passed, regardless of whether they received their preferred comfort food, a favorite food, a granola bar, or nothing at all. What could explain this unexpected effect? According to the leader of the study, time is what made them feel better, not food. Researchers explain that although people may think what they eat makes them feel better, it’s really just the time that passes while consuming the item.

They hope this information will get rid of the notion of comfort food, which tends to have way too many calories and lots of fat. In fact, you’re more likely likely to feel better by eating healthy mood boosting foods like fruits and veggies.

Featured image courtesy of Purple Sherbet on Flickr. Image of donuts courtesy of makelessnoise on Flickr.