What are your eating habits in the face of stress? Do you eat more under duress, or are you the sort of person who loses your appetite?
A new study shows that stress eaters tend to eat more when stressed, but actually eat less after a positive experience, while "skippers" -- those who don't eat during stressful moments -- tend to consume more after a positive experience.
"These findings challenge the simplistic view that stress eaters need to regulate their eating behavior to prevent weight gain," study researcher Gudrun Sproesser, of the University of Konstanz in Germany, said in a statement. "Both skippers and munchers have their 'soft spot' for food, they just show different compensatory eating patterns in response to positive and negative situations."
For the study, published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers subjected study participants to either a positive or negative feedback experience. To induce this experience, they had participants video chat with a stranger partner before meeting him or her in person. Then, the participants were told that their partner was looking forward to meeting them based on their video interaction, or that their partner had decided to cancel the in-person meeting because of the video interaction. A control group was told that their meeting was canceled, but not because of either of these reasons.
They then participated in a seemingly unrelated ice cream taste test, where they were given unlimited amounts of ice cream. Researchers found that people who self-identified as stress eaters ate 120 calories more of ice cream after experiencing the negative feedback, compared with people who identified as "skippers."
However, people who self-identified as skippers ate 74 calories more of ice cream than the stress eaters if they received positive feedback in the first part of the study. And skippers ate more ice cream than the control group after positive feedback, while munchers ate less ice cream than the control group after positive feedback.
Are you a stress eater or a skipper? Do you think these findings mirror your own eating behaviors? Tell us in the comments!