Documentary Explores Link Between Mood and Diet

Previous Article Next Article
January 09, 2016 | 219,395 views

Story at-a-glance

  • PBS documentary reveals food psychology secrets that may change your approach to eating
  • The size of your plate and utensils, as well as the color of your placemat, may be psychologically priming you to overeat
  • Food psychologist suggests science-based strategies for tricking your body into desiring healthier foods and smaller portions

By Dr. Mercola

The connection between your food and your mood has been the focus of occasional scientific inquiry over the past couple of decades.

Your diet can have a pronounced biochemical effect on your mental health, but the reverse is also true—your emotional state can influence the foods you choose, as well as being a major force behind food cravings.

Dr. Brian Wansink1 of Cornell University, author of more than 200 articles and books about the psychology of eating, is featured in the PBS documentary "Food on the Brain." 

This program explores the psychology of eating and provides tips and tricks for making better food choices when faced with the overwhelming number of products in supermarkets today.

Your Foods Influence Your Moods—And Vice Versa

The average supermarket now carries 43,844 different products.2 How can you even begin to make good choices when there are so many products from which to choose? Going shopping can be overwhelming.

Shoppers report that an abundance of choice can make decision-making difficult, and five percent of shoppers will simply walk away empty-handed when the scope of choices makes selection too overwhelming.3

Research has shown that an unprocessed food based diet, including fermented foods to optimize your gut flora, supports positive mood and optimal mental health.

For example, dark chocolate, berries, coffee, bananas, omega-3 fats, and turmeric (curcumin) tend to boost your mood, whereas sugar, wheat (gluten), and processed foods have been linked to poor mood.

But the influence also works in the other direction. Studies show that your emotional state may significantly control the types of foods you choose, as well as how much food you're inclined to eat.

Could Avoiding Overeating Be as Simple as Thinking Happy Thoughts?

When it comes to harnessing the power of your mind, there is probably no better tool than EFT, which stands for Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping). EFT is a form of energy psychology that helps you clear out unwanted emotions that can get in the way of achieving your health goals.

And EFT can help with a sudden attack of the munchies. While food cravings certainly feel physical, they're often rooted in unconscious emotions. Food works to temporarily suppress unpleasant feelings, and cravings are a powerful distraction!

By tapping on the craving itself, you can reduce your stress and release some of the emotions driving the cravings—and once you accomplish this, it's likely the craving will fade. Although tapping is often effective at reducing or eliminating cravings in the moment, it may not be sufficient to eliminate them permanently.

For permanent change, you might have to delve deeper into the emotional underpinnings of your eating behaviors. But the good news is, EFT is typically quite effective on both levels!  If you want to learn more about EFT, please take a look at a few of our previous articles. The following will get you off to a good start:

Food for Thought

When navigating the thousands of food choices available today, it's important to remain grounded and mindful of your ultimate health goals. There's a powerful link between your brain, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, and being aware of these connections is the first step in taking control of undesirable eating patterns.

If you're wondering why you aren't doing the things you know you "should" be doing, then, the next step may be to examine your personal eating psychology. Armed with a few tools, you'll get yourself back in the driver's seat again, instead of allowing unconscious emotions to drive your health downhill.

[+]Sources and References [-]Sources and References

  • 1 Dr. Brian Wansink
  • 2 FMI Supermarket Facts
  • 3 Consumer Reports January 2014
  • 4 Food Psychology 2014
  • 5 Health Psychology December 2014
  • 6 Medical Daily November 4, 2014
  • 7 Food Psychology 2003
  • 8 Washington Post October 1, 2014
  • 9 Time July 15, 2011
  • 10 ABC News July 10, 2012
  • 11 Livestrong January 28, 2015
  • 12 J Acad Nutrit Diete January 2014
  • 13 WHFoods
  • 14 New York Times Blog September 11, 2013
  • 15 Carnegie Mellon University December 9, 2010