A new health breakthrough finds that bad news or negative situations make people seek higher-calorie foods. For people seeking to lose or manage weight, itâs important to stay the course during âtough times.â
When there is a perception of tough timesâsuch as a poor economyâpeople tend to seek higher-calorie foods that will keep them satisfied longer. When faced with negative messages, people tend to have an impulse that could be described as âlive for today.â
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This impulse causes people to eat about 40% more food than those who donât face such perceived tough times. (This, in the study, would be a control group primed with neutral words.)
Itâs important in todayâs societyâfilled with bad news about the economy, presidential attack ads, gun violence, and distant warsâthat we donât give in to these impulses. Still, one could imagine this same impulse to strike when your favorite team loses a key football game, for instance.
Whatâs more about the people facing âtough timesâ messages is that they consumed 25% less low-calorie foods than before. So, not only are they eating more, they are eating way more calories. Whether seeking comfort food or not, this will kill diet goals.
One study used a bowl of âM&Mâ candies, a âtaste testâ for a new flavor. Half of the studyâs participants were told the secret ingredient was a new, high-calorie chocolate. The others were told the new chocolate was low-calorie. (There was no difference, though.) The researchers were secretly measuring how much people ate after being exposed to posters containing either neutral sentences or sentences related to struggle and adversity.
Those who were subconsciously primed to think about struggle and adversity ate close to 70% more of the âhigher-calorieâ candy compared to the âlower-calorieâ option; those who were primed with neutral words did not significantly differ in the amount of M&Ms consumed.
Keep watch for external factors that could cause you to eat poorly, in ways you might never have seen coming.
Sources for Today’s Articles:
Why You Have to Watch Calories During âTough Timesâ
Laran, J. and Salerno, A., âLife-History Strategy, Food Choice, and Caloric Consumption,â Psychological Science, published online January 2013.