This blog was written by Jenna Pearson. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.
We all know that emotional eating can sabotage even the greatest of weight-loss efforts. Typically we envision emotions that coincide with emotional eating to be primarily negative. New research, however, shows that positive emotions can also have an influence on what we choose to eat.
The Journal of Consumer Research recently published findings in an article titled “Helpful Hopefulness: The Effect of Future Positive Emotions on Consumption” that suggest happy people are more likely to snack on candy bars, whereas hopeful people choose more often to snack on fruit.
Personality Traits and Their Impact on Food Choices
To fully understand the relationships that exist between positive emotions and food choices, researchers dissected the traits that classify personalities as happy and/or hopeful. They found that those with hopeful personality traits focus mainly on the future, while people with happy personalities tend to beam from past achievements. In looking toward the future, hopeful people choose more health-conscious snacks, and also exhibit greater levels of self-control than their happy, prideful counterparts who are simply “living for the moment.”
Adjusting Your Attitude Will Improve Your Choices
The relationship between happiness and food choices literally creates an emotional rollercoaster. In addition to the preceding research, scientists have studied the emotional side-effects of food, and have found intriguing results: Participants who consumed apples reported feelings of satisfaction, happiness, and heightened energy, while individuals who ate chocolate cited the same joyous feelings; however, they were closely followed by feelings of guilt.
So what do we make of this? Karen Page Winterich and Kelly L. Haws, the authors of the “Helpful Hopefulness” study offer this conclusion: “The next time you’re feeling well, don’t focus too much on all the good things in the past. Instead, keep that positive glow and focus on your future, especially all the good things you imagine to come. Your waistline will thank you!” Couldn’t have said it better myself!
Many corporations, spurred by corporate wellness initiatives, are going with healthier cafeteria and vending options. What does your workplace offer, candy bar or fruit bar?