Looking to lose weight? Think a happy thought before you eat. A new study has found that mood and food do more than just rhyme—your mood impacts what kind and how much food you eat.
“People use food to either maintain a good mood or regain a good mood, and if you’re already in a good mood, you tend to eat more healthfully than if you’re in a bad mood,” said Brian Wansink a professor in Cornell’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and a co-author of the paper “Better Moods for Better Eating: How Mood Influences Food Choice,” published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.
“Understanding why we make bad food choices in bad moods can help us make better choices,” said co-author Meryl P. Gardner, Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Delaware’s Lerner College. “When we think about the future, it’s almost as if we are physically taking a step back, enabling us to see our more fundamental values—like health and nutrition. We can use that to make wiser choices rather than letting our moods dictate our behavior.”
Gardner, Wansink, and their South Korean colleagues, Junyong Kim of Hanyang University and Se-Bum Park of Yonsei University, say, “when people are in a good mood, things seem OK, and they can take a big-picture perspective. This kind of thinking allows people to focus on the more abstract aspects of food, including how healthy it is.”
“The take away of this study is you can change your mood and eat better. Before a snack or meal, think of something that makes you happy or grateful, and you’ll eat less and better,” said Wansink.
When we’re happy, we’re more likely to want healthier food.