'Comfort Food' May Be a Myth

Study suggests it's time, not food, that improves our mood
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2014 8:00 AM CDT
'Comfort Food' May Be a Myth
Is ice cream really a comfort food?   (Shutterstock)

Feel better after that bowl of ice cream? It might not be the food itself that's responsible; instead, it could just be the passage of time that's lifting your mood, researchers say. They had study participants name their favorite comfort foods; the participants were also asked to identify foods they liked that but that they didn't think were tied to better moods, LiveScience reports. The subjects then watched a 20-minute movie meant to make them feel down—which, apparently, it did. They rated their feelings right after watching the video and then again three minutes later.

During that interval, some were given their comfort foods, while others got a non-comfort food they enjoyed. Still others got granola bars, and a final group received no food. Turns out that the subjects felt better after three minutes, regardless of what they ate or even if they ate. "Whether it's your comfort food, or it’s a granola bar, or if you eat nothing at all, you will eventually feel better. Basically, comfort food can't speed up that healing process," a researcher says. But people think it does, which can lead to poor eating habits, she explains. Instead, suggests another expert to NDTV, try a 10-minute walk. (If, however, you still believe in comfort food, you may want to test out Burger King's new chicken and waffle sandwich.)

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