Fan food habits

couple watching sportsYour beloved football team just experienced a gut-wrenching loss in overtime and, if you’re like many fans, you reach not for fruits and vegetables in which to drown your sorrows, but rather junk food. And more of it. In a study published in Psychological Science, researchers found that, among participants partaking in a nutrition study, on the Monday after their city’s NFL team lost, they consumed 10 percent more calories and 16 percent more saturated fat compared with their typical daily diets. When their team won, they ate healthier, consuming 9 percent less saturated fat. No changes in Monday eating habits were observed in those who lived in cities without an NFL team.

The researchers also looked at whether the same comfort-food phenomenon occurred in French soccer fans after a team loss. Using a writing exercise in which participants penned a story about their team’s win or loss, they discovered those who wrote about a defeat preferred unhealthy, sugar- and fat-laden snacks, compared with those who wrote about a victory. Such behavior could point to a bad trend of eating unhealthfully to deal with emotions.

One possible solution? The researchers found, in a separate part of the study, that using self-affirmation (in this case, writing about important things in your life, such as family and friend relationships), could curb unhealthy noshing, although more research on whether it works in stressful times is needed. With a long football season ahead, it might be worthwhile to take some preventive approaches, such as having healthier snacks on hand or taking a walk instead of reaching for the chip bowl. Go team!

Learn more about healthy eating, and how you can cut unhealthy fats from your diet.