If you are anything like me, happy thoughts involving food usually include strawberry filled churros at the fair, cake with vanilla icing on my birthday, and root beer floats on a warm afternoon. Not one of which would remotely be considered healthy.
Conversely, there are the childhood memories filled with uneaten plates of salad, spinach and brussels sprouts Mom proudly served to make me grow big and strong, even though I was willing to trade fragility just to avoid another green bean.
So then, it may seem impossible for the phrase “healthy food” and the word “happiness” to occupy the same space (except for, admittedly, this specific instance). But there is hope!
Two studies completed within the last few years have linked happiness with consuming healthy food. Interestingly, each study took a completely different approach in study, both concluding that yes, healthy food does indeed lead to happiness.
The first study, conducted in Germany by the Department of Psychological at the University of Kontanz, reviewed the consumption of over a dozen food categories. Their findings showed eating sweets (see churros and cake above) only induced happiness. This may seem to counter the idea happiness is in some way tied to healthy food. However, what the study did find was the participants over all state well-being improved when restricted sugary foods and ate healthy, especially in diets where vegetables were most prominent. Conclusion: healthy food boosts our well-being and general sense of feeling happy.
A second study out of Australia sought to determine if there was a connection between depression and the foods we eat. In trials performed at Deakin University, half of their study group suffering from depression were provided nutritional support, while the other half received emotional support. After twelve weeks, the results clearly indicated subjects conforming to a healthy food diet were much happier than their counterparts.
Just the thought of dieting usually conjures up images of kale salads and cauliflower rice while watching our friends enjoy forbidden foods. However, given enough time, healthy food can stabilize your sugar levels, improve your overall health, and yes… even make you happy!