How the future can impact the foods you choose in the present

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014. Filed under: Beauty & Style Health & Fitness Home & Garden
If you want to eat healthier, think about the long term benefits of eating a carrot rather than a chocolate bar, suggests a new study. ©conrado/

If you want to eat healthier, think about the long term benefits of eating a carrot rather than a chocolate bar, suggests a new study.

(Relaxnews) – Scientists in a recent study confirmed what every emotional eater knows: that bad moods and negative events can lead to stress eating. But in their research, the scientists also suggest that one way to curb the bad habit is to think about the future.

For their research, a team of scientists from the University of Delaware, Cornell University, Hanyang University ERICA and Yonsei University in South Korea conducted a series of tests that aimed to determine why people reach for pints of ice cream and bags of chips when feeling blue.

A series of tests was conducted on 211 adults from a local parent-teacher group and 315 undergraduate students and involved asking participants to express their preference for healthy versus indulgent foods.

Scientists also manipulated participants’ moods by giving them positive, negative and neutral articles to read before making their food choices and presented them with either raisins (healthy food) or M&Ms (unhealthy).

Positive articles involved profiles of people who led great lives and achieved impressive goals, while negative articles told sad stories about failed accomplishments and tragic lives.

One of the big conclusions from the experiments is that while negative moods can lead people to seek instant gratification, happier people were driven to make healthier food choices for long-term and future health benefits.

A similar study published in the Journal of Consumer Research in 2011 also looked at the nuances of emotions, time and food choices, and found that happy people are more likely to reach for a candy bar, while hopeful people are more likely to choose healthier options like fruit.

The reason? Hopeful people are thinking about the future.

“So, 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,” the authors said in a statement.


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