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Wed, Dec 17
The myth of comfort food
Feeling sad or stressed? Put down that Oreo or bowl of mac ’n’ cheese and brace yourself for another bummer: The emotional healing powers of comfort food may be overrated.
True, your mood will probably improve shortly after you eat your favorite high-carb hug, but no more so than if you’d eaten a granola bar — a pleasant enough choice, but hardly a fixture in that calorically elevated “comfort food” category. In a study published in the journal Health Psychology, researchers at the University of Minnesota found that even when you don’t soothe yourself with food, your mood will probably bounce back on its own.
“People have this belief that high-calorie foods are the path out of difficult feelings,” said Kelly D. Brownell, dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke, who studies obesity and behavior and was not involved in this research. “But the assignment of the word ‘comfort’ to these foods implies there is a relationship between ‘comfort’ and ‘food’ that may not exist.”