When you're feeling blue, is the cookie jar your best friend? What about when you're happy? We tend to think of emotional eating as only for the depressed, but new research indicates that even people who say they are happy are likely to throw back a couple of chocolate bars if they think the sweets will help them stay upbeat.
A study published recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology revealed that about twice as many university students ate cookies, pretzels and cheese when they thought the food would affect their mood. Some thought the snack would make them feel happier, but others thought it would simply keep them feeling good.
"Before this study, most people thought that if you're in a bad mood, you just give up on your diet and give in to food," says Dianne Tice, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Case Western Reserve University and one of the coauthors of the study. "We found that it doesn't matter what mood you're in, but how you attempt to regulate it," she says. Thus, even happy people have to avoid using food to determine emotions.