Are You a Moody Foodie?

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Duke Student Health Nutrition Services
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Thumbnail I remember several years ago as a young adolescent my daughter and her friend dressing up in homemade Halloween costumes as “We’ve Been Dumped Girls”. The costumes consisted of pjs, bathrobes, fuzzy slippers, hair in sloppy ponytails, smeared mascara and of course empty containers of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.  Creative yes! Accurate? Let’s see………

New research shows that people with temporary mood lows generally bounce back pretty well on their own regardless of what they may eat. Those with more prolonged mood lows may turn to food on a more regular basis for comfort but the resulting lift in spirits is generally short lived and may result in cyclical emotional eating patterns. For these folks consulting a qualified therapist for an evaluation is the best advice.

But for the majority of us who experience temporary emotional lows the “comfort” we receive from eating certain foods may have more to do with associations we have with that food than any magical mood lifting powers. For example did you and your mom (or dad) make cookies together for fun? Did you share an ice cream cone with a beloved grandparent?

The memory of the good feelings may be what is actually helping.

Although we do know that foods high in carbohydrate temporarily make you feel better, a piece of fruit or a granola bar will do the job just as nicely as ice cream or brownies or chips—although these foods will probably not be the thing that comes to mind first. 

Here is a list of some “comfort foods with a more nutritious twist”

  • Oatmeal
  • Fresh fruit and a little nut butter
  • Nuts and dark chocolate
  • Bean soups
  • Grilled cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread
  • Whole grain granola bar

Let’s face it though; sometimes you do just want a little ice cream because it tastes good. Enjoy it for that reason alone.

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