Feeling stressed? Reach for the stereo, not the snacks! Experts say listening to music by the likes of Amy Winehouse and Eminem can stop you comfort eating
- Often people turn to food when they are feeling stressed or sad, experts say
- Researchers analysed how many snacks women ate after listening to music
- Women made to feel sad who listened to music ate half the amount of snacks
It may feel natural to dip your hands into the biscuit tin after a stressful day at work.
But researchers believe they’ve uncovered a simple trick to help banish your desire to comfort eat — listen to music.
Scientists analysed how many snacks women ate after listening to certain types of music.
Participants were made to feel sad, as part of the study’s attempts to see how food and music can help to combat negative emotions.
Women who listened to music which released feelings of anger or sadness ate half the amount of crisps, chocolate and sweets, compared to volunteers not given any headphones.
The music included songs like Amy Winehouse’s (left) Back To Black, Eminem’s (right) Mockingbird, and Linkin Park’s In The End
Such tunes included Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black, Eminem’s Mockingbird, and Linkin Park’s In The End.
Women ate about a third less after listening to music that provided solace, such as Coldplay’s Fix You or Sam Smith’s Lay Me Down.
Dr Helen Coulthard, an expert in eating behaviour at De Montfort University, said: ‘If you’re feeling stressed and you’re worried that might lead to eating lots of unhealthy junk food, get your headphones on and listen to some lovely comforting music.’
She added that the method could also help some people with weight loss.
How music works to help people eat less is not known, but experts suggest it could be linked to the release of happy hormones like dopamine and serotonin.
Annemieke van den Tol, a music psychologist from the University of Lincoln, who co-authored the study, said: ‘I think the take-home message is if we’re stressed we might have the tendency to do something to make us feel better.
‘And unconsciously we might grab food because it is giving us a positive dopamine, serotonin, boost that makes us feel better.
‘But think about alternatives – like music (which) can equally give you a boost and make you feel better when you’re sad or stressed.’
For each study, 120 women were asked to name a song they listened to when sad, stressed or in need of distraction, and this was then played back to them when they were eating under the trial conditions.
The findings were presented at the British Science Festival being hosted by De Montfort University in Leicester.
WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE?
Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, according to the NHS
• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count
• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain
• 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on
• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower fat and lower sugar options
• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts
• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day
• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men a day
Source: NHS Eatwell Guide