Feeling hungry? The complicated relationship between moods and foods

A new study from HelloFresh found the top foods respondents said they reach for when having a bad day included chocolate (46%), fast food and candy (both at 36%) and chips (35%). Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Tacos, steak and bacon, oh my! New research has found the top foods that can instantly put you in a better mood.

A new survey of 2,000 nationally representative Americans analyzed the relationship between our moods and the food we eat and found it really is a complicated relationship to say the least.

Sixty-six percent of respondents said what they eat greatly depends on their mood, but 65% also said the reverse is true — their mood can dictate what they eat that day.

A quarter of respondents said they opt for a salty treat on a bad day and 31% prefer something sweet.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of meal kit company HelloFresh, the survey found the top foods respondents said they reach for when having a bad day included chocolate (46%), fast food and candy (both at 36%) and chips (35%).

Although the top food they grab on a good day is also chocolate (41%), the results showed fresh vegetables and fresh fruit rose in the ranks to 39% compared to 30% and 27% on a bad day.

Respondents were also asked what foods can instantly put them in a better mood no matter what and shared the top foods were tacos (33%), bacon and eggs (32%) and a nice juicy steak (32%).

Deciding on what to eat for dinner after having a bad day is also the last thing 67% of respondents want to think about.

Unfortunately, these food decisions end up making Americans feel even worse during a crummy day, with 59% of respondents agreeing that when they eat bad or unhealthy foods, they’re more likely to feel bad later in the day.

The key to having better days and better moods may truly be as simple as eating better, with 67% of respondents agreeing they feel healthier when they eat a home cooked meal as opposed to takeout or delivery.

Sixty-five percent of respondents also shared they feel more energized after eating a well-balanced diet and 62% feel like they can take on the world after eating a healthy meal.

Respondents also reported a 37% increase in confidence when they eat a healthy meal — and a further increase of 40% when they cook this meal from start to finish.

After they successfully cook a healthy meal from start to finish — 68% of respondents reported feeling satisfied with themselves — with 40% saying they feel “very satisfied.”

“Whether you are a novice in the kitchen or a more experienced home cook, preparing a meal from start to finish can leave you with a feeling of pride and sense of accomplishment,” says Dana Murrell, Head of Culinary at HelloFresh. “Every time you cook, you are either honing a skill or building a new one. Cooking with a meal kit helps to steer you in the right direction and ensure the finished dish is always delicious.”

The majority of those surveyed (65%) said cooking is often therapeutic for them, and 24% said the best part of cooking is that it reduces their stress.

The best parts of cooking according to respondents are experimenting with new recipes and techniques and bringing people together to share a meal is another favorite part of cooking. Respondents also shared that dinner is their favorite meal to eat.

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