If a pint of ice cream at the end of a long day cheers you up, or if you are in a habit of ordering the greasiest of meals in times of stress and eating it all up in one go, be aware, this has nothing to do with emotional relief.
At least that is what science wants you to believe.
In 2014, a study conducted by University of Geneva declared that even stress-eaters do not like stress eating because it is not enjoyable. While it was hard to believe (ever heard of pizza burgers or vice versa?), it was not nearly as unbelievable as the recently published study in journal Biological Psychology.
The researchers at University of Salzburg, Austria, just claimed stress eating is nothing but a myth.
Along with making people question their entire existence, this study also goes to say that stress actually cuts down on people’s intake of food instead of encouraging it.
To reach to this conclusion, the researchers gathered 59 volunteers and asked them to categorize themselves either as restrained eaters: people who monitor their food consumption to manage their weight; external eaters: those who eat in response to “food cues” like sight or smell; or emotional eaters: the ones who eat in response to positive or negative emotional events.
The participants then used an app to report their emotional state, stress level and food log five times a day, for 10 days. With each entry, they also noted if their meal or snack was influenced by time constraint, if they just wanted to taste the food, or if they were actually hungry.
The results showed “higher stress led to decreased taste-eating which is in line with physiological stress-models.”
In other words, the more stressed they were, the less the volunteers ate. The stress did not make them hungrier or crave food; they only ate when they were actually hungry.
Meanwhile, those who reported feeling happy or positive emotions ended up eating more.
“Time pressure during eating resulted in less taste- and more hunger-eating,” stated the researchers. “In line with previous research, stronger positive emotions went along with increased taste-eating. Emotional eating style moderated the relationship between negative emotions and taste eating as well as hunger eating. BMI moderated the relationship between negative as well as positive emotions and hunger-eating.”
Now you can’t even eat your feelings — because science.