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Study Concludes That People Make Poor Eating Choices When Stressed

May 04, 2018

Study Concludes That People Make Poor Eating Choices When Stressed

The vast majority of us have a tendency to snack from time to time.  We snack for many different reasons, including the facts that we are hungry between meals and that we crave something tasty every now and then.  As such, most of us also understand that one of the comforts we tend to turn to when dealing with stress is food.  Unfortunately, using food as a comfort or as a reward can lead to bad decisions with regards to health and nutrition.  While this was a long-held general belief, researchers have recently reached that specific conclusion after a study.

Researchers at the University of Zurich asked more than 50 subjects to take part in their research.  A link to an abstract of the study can be found here.  These people were chosen because they all admitted to wanting to eat a healthy diet but that they sometimes made poor food choices.  29 people were put into one group and the other 22 served as the control group.  Those 29 people were asked to hold one of their hands in ice water while being filmed, which was mildly stressful.  They were then given an fMRI in order to track their brain activity.

While the fMRI was being administered, the subjects were shown pictures of different foods and asked to choose one.  Some of the photos even had the healthy snack outlined to see if the subjects would recognize that and make that choice.  What the researchers found was that those who had experienced stress were more likely to choose a ‘tasty’ snack over a healthy one, and particularly so when there was a large difference in nutritional quality between the foods. 

In addition, the fMRI scans showed that there were different areas of the brain that tended to compete with each other as these choices were made.  The results indicated that the portion of the brain that seeks immediate reward became ‘louder’ or more active than other portions of the brain that lean towards long-term rewards and sensible choices.  The control group, meanwhile, chose the healthier foods on a much more regular basis.

Taste vs. Nutrition – The False Choice

While this study is very interesting, it depends on one foundational theory that Family Health Market has debunked in recent years.  That theory is that snack food is either healthy or it tastes good.  The team at Family Health Market has proven that these are not mutually exclusive ideas in any way, shape or form.  We have been providing smart, delicious snacks for our customers since the day that we opened our doors, and we’ll continue to do so going forward.

One thing is abundantly clear – we are all going to experience stress at some point, and many of us will undoubtedly look for a snack to help us cope.  All you need to do is make sure that you have a smart and tasty selection nearby that is provided by Family Health Market.  If you do so, you’ll get the best of both worlds every time you decide to snack.  If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, feel free to contact us for answers to your questions.  Happy smart snacking!



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