Food choices – part one – mood

Fruit for breakfast

Food choices – part one – mood

You probably know this intuitively, but I am currently reading a study about how mood can affect your food choices. There is evidence for the fact that if you are in a negative mood, you are more likely to choose fat or sugar rich foods, because these trigger the release of insulin and endorphins, which will likely make you feel a bit better, at least in the short term.

If you are happy you are more likely to think about the long term consequences of your food choices, and make a more healthful decision.

The study showed that people in a positive mood were more likely to favour healthy food choices and those in a negative mood were more likely to favour indulgent food choices.

Furthermore this effect was magnified when participants were influenced to focus either on long term conditions or short term conditions. Those participants who were induced into a negative mood and short term mindset ate significantly more m and m’s than compared to a more healthful food – raisins, and those who were in a positive mood and induced to a long term mindset ate the least m and m’s compared to raisins.

It was very interesting research that explains why encouraging more innocuous methods of ameliorating a negative mood may be a better strategy than using nutritional labels or warnings on less healthful foods.

It is very interesting from a practice point of view. If the goal is to make better food choices, mood and temporal mindset could also be manipulated to assist in achieving behavioural change.


Gardner MP, Wansink B, Kim J, Park S. 2014. Better moods for better eating?: How mood influences food choice. Journal of Consumer Psychology. Vol 24(3) 320-335.

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