New research from Pennsylvania State University suggests that unhealthy eating habits could cause women already in a bad mood to feel grumpier. Women concerned about their diet reported feeling worse after eating junk food. Conversely, for women who felt good before eating junk food, their mood remained unchanged.
This is significant because many of us are familiar with that guilty feeling after eating something we think we shouldn't - and this does affect our mood.
The study gathered data from 131 women who had high levels of unhealthy eating habits and concerns about their body weight, shape and size, but no eating disorders. This was an interesting study group since most data regarding food and how we feel have been analysed from samples where eating disorders were present. The study's lead author, Dr Kristin Heron, said they "were interested in studying women in their everyday lives to see whether mood changed before or after they engaged in unhealthy eating and weight control behaviours".
Professor Joshua Smyth, the co-author of the study, said the team employed a research method that evaluated moods and eating behaviours "as they occur in people's daily lives, which can provide a more accurate picture of the relationship between emotions and eating". Several times a day, a device prompted the women to answer questions about their mood and eating behaviours. The results showed that eating junk food made one feel miserable only if you had been in a bad mood before eating, which indicates that junk food has the capacity to push you down a spiral of misery especially if you are conscious of your weight. However, those who felt good were unaffected.
This study highlights a very interesting point: food affects each of us differently, and that maybe we are not so much what we eat, but what we feel.
Laura Holland is a well-being consultant and nutritional therapist. For more information, go to www.BeUtifulYou.com