Valentine's Day: Diet 'triple threat'

Published: Feb. 13, 2012 at 12:07 AM

ITHACA, N.Y., Feb. 13 (UPI) -- People feeling happy might make a Valentine's Day dinner of salmon and vegetables, but the depressed might just reach for a bag of candy, a U.S. expert said.

"Valentine's Day is a triple threat when it comes to emotional eating," Brian Wansink, director of Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab and author of "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think," said in a statement. "It often combines good candy, convenience and a license to eat."

Wansink said one of his studies found people feeling sad tend to eat more unhealthy comfort foods.

Almost 40 administrative assistants watched either an upbeat, funny movie, "Sweet Home Alabama," or a sad, depressing movie, "Love Story." During the movies, the participants were offered hot buttered, salty popcorn and seedless grapes.

"Those who had watched 'Love Story' had eaten 36 percent more popcorn than those who had watched the upbeat 'Sweet Home Alabama.' Those watching 'Sweet Home Alabama' ate popcorn and grapes, but more grapes."

Candy -- especially chocolate -- is used to either maintain a good mood or to cure a bad mood and since there tends to be more candy around during Valentine's Day, make sure the candy is at least 6 feet out of reach from where you sit, Wansink advised.

"Our studies with chocolate in candy dishes show you'll eat about 125 calories less if you move the bowl," Wansink said.

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