Feeling sad stops you from indulging in unhealthy foods (Thinkstock Photos/Getty Images)
Are you a fast food or chocolate lover who does not mind eating an extra one if offered? The best way to avoid the instant gratification is to become sad about such food products.
According to a study, combating this type of self-destructive behaviour may be achieved simply by making a person feel sad.
"We found that when people who are sad are exposed to pictures of indulgent food or indulgent words, their sadness highlights the negative consequences of indulging and encourages them to indulge less," said Anthony Salerno from University of Miami.
In a series of experiments, authors studied the behaviour of participants who were exposed to either indulgent or neutral words or images and then made to feel sad.
In one study, participants were asked to either look at a series of print ads that featured pleasurable foods like pizza and chocolate cake or to look at neutral print ads featuring products like washing machines and electric cars.
The participants were asked to complete a writing task that made them feel sad.
At the end of the study, the participants were given the opportunity to eat indulgent foods.
The results showed that when people were first exposed to pleasurable information and then made to feel sad, they decreased their consumption of indulgent foods.
The authors also found that these participants were more likely to indicate how consuming indulgent foods could lead to health problems.
In contrast, when people were exposed to neutral information and made to feel sad, they increased their consumption of indulgent foods, said the study.
"For brands looking to understand what triggers help and hinder people in their ability to eat healthy foods, we provide insight into when sadness might aid consumers in becoming less prone to indulging in unhealthy foods on a daily basis," added Chris Janiszewski from University of Florida.
The research was published in the Journal of Consumer Research