People who mindfully consume their chocolate treats this Halloween may experience more of a mood boost than those who do so without thinking, or who mindfully consume other foods, a new study suggests.
Mindful eating practices encourage people to slow down and think about their eating experience.
The researchers studied a group of mostly white college students who ate either five pieces of Blommers Appalachian Gold Milk Chocolate Discs or five Carr's Plain Table Water crackers, each about a 75 calorie portion.
The students were randomly divided into four groups. One group was given some chocolate and instructed to eat it mindfully, another group was assigned to do the same, but with the crackers instead of the chocolate, a third group was told just to eat chocolate (without instructions about mindfulness), and the fourth group was assigned to non-mindful cracker consumption.
Mindful eating instructions
They ate while listening to 4.5-minute audio recordings, either including instructions on eating mindfully, or without specific instructions.
The mindfulness recording included instructions like “hold a chocolate/ cracker in your hand and gaze at the color and appearance and to think about the farmers who produced the ingredients needed to create the food,” and “focus on the sensations created by the food.”
The students also completed mood questionnaires before and after food consumption.
Those in mindful chocolate or cracker groups had more positive mood after eating than they had before eating, and people who ate chocolate had more improvement in mood than those who ate crackers.
Since the researchers used milk chocolate and only one amount (75 calories) in our study, they don’t know if mindfully eating dark chocolate or more calories worth of milk chocolate changes the effect.
People who liked the food they were eating seemed to get more of a mood boost, so liking the food may explain at least part of the connection, the authors stated.
Specific components of chocolate as well as associations with past positive experiences may influence mood.
The findings don’t suggest that people should eat more chocolate, per say, but that if they tend to eat chocolate normally, establishing mindfulness will increase the pleasure of eating it.
Mindfulness promotes healthier consumption habits by maximizing the enjoyment people receive from their food.
Source: Appetite, online September 15, 2016.
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