Bad Eating Habits Make Women Cranky, Says Study

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There’s no doubt that mood and food go together. Some eat food to make themselves feel better. Some eat out of boredom. And others eat out of stress or anger over everyday pressures that build in our modern world. But did you know that the way you eat can make you feel even worse than the way you felt just before you started eating? According to Penn State researchers, unhealthy eating habits can make a woman feel crankier after a meal.

Disordered eating patterns include such behaviors as binge eating, loss of control over eating and food intake restriction—eating habits that adversely affect many women who have a tough time with dieting and dealing with body-image issues both internal and in public.

However, according to a news release by Penn State University, the role mood and food plays on a person is not always a simple matter of eating, and feeling better afterward.

While much has been learned by studying women who have major eating disorders while being analyzed under controlled laboratory settings, relatively little has been done to assess the relationship between food and mood in women without an eating disorder (but do have a history of having unhealthy eating habits) while under more typical everyday conditions.

"What we know about mood and eating behaviors comes primarily from studies with eating disorder patients or from laboratory studies," said Kristin Heron, research associate at the Survey Research Center. "We were interested in studying women in their everyday lives to see whether mood changed before or after they engaged in unhealthy eating and weight control behaviors."

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To study women in their everyday lives, the researchers at Penn State took their experiments out of the lab and into the public by supplying 131 college-age women with handheld computers that were programmed to prompt the women to answer questions about their mood and eating behaviors throughout the day.

What the researchers found was that there was little change in the tested women’s moods prior to unhealthy eating, but after a session of disordered eating their mood was definitely negative or worse than it was prior to eating.

"This study is unique because it evaluates moods and eating behaviors as they occur in people's daily lives, which can provide a more accurate picture of the relationship between emotions and eating," states Joshua Smyth, professor of biobehavioral health. "The results from this study can help us to better understand the role mood may play in the development and maintenance of unhealthy eating, and weight-control behaviors, which could be useful for creating more effective treatment programs for people with eating and weight concerns."

The researchers presented their findings earlier this week at the American Psychosomatic Society conference in Miami.

Image Source: Courtesy of Wikipedia

Reference: Penn State News: “Unhealthy eating can make a bad mood worse”

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