Emotional eating is no longer the answer; according to researchers at Penn State, people don't actually feel better after eating junk food. In fact, they often feel worse.
A new study, presented Friday at the American Psychosomatic Society conference in Miami, surveyed 131 college-aged women who had concerns about their body shape and weight but did not have an eating disorder.
The researchers prompted participants to answer questions about their moods and eating behaviors, allowing them to see how eating can create a rise or fall in mood.
Researchers then found that moods actually worsened after their subjects ate unhealthy foods (like an entire bag of Cheetos in one sitting... oops?). "There was little in the way of mood changes right before the unhealthy eating behaviors," research associate Kristin Heron told Penn State University press. "However, negative mood was significantly higher after these behaviors."
Subjects who were in a good mood before eating tended to have no mood changes regardless of eating behaviors, the study found, but people who were in bad moods tended to become more negative when eating unhealthily.
This is hardly surprising, as past studies have demonstrated a downward spiral of eating junk food and depression (stress can lead mice to eat comfort foods for dopamine, which can lead to more stress). But still, the fact that a person's guilt can outweigh the dopamine is a little disheartening. Thanks for ruining post-break-up ice cream fests for us, science. Real nice.