Stressed Out? The Real Reason You Want Ice Cream

July 17, 2013  |  

The boss gave you hell and the kids are acting a fool–you deserve those cookies, right? It’s a classic stress eating scenario but a new study from the Institute of Food Technologists what you’re doing isn’t stress, it’s habit.

Dr. David O’Neal, the study’s lead author says, “Habits don’t change in a high-pressure situation. People default to what their habits are under stress, whether healthy or not.” He and his research team studied the eating habits of 59 MBA students during midterm exams. They had a choice of healthy snacks (yogurt, nuts and fruits) and unhealthy snacks (cookies, candy and flavored popcorn) and had to report which snacks they chose during exams. Though many participants started out eating the healthier snacks, as their stress levels increased, they went back to the snacks they were used to. For many, that meant healthy snacks but for those who had sugar habits, that meant the unhealthy stuff.

So what does that mean for you? This study is just one more thing telling you it’s all about making lifestyle changes rather than going on a diet. Keep healthy snacks around the house–and let go of your secret stash of treats.

 

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