NFL fans take losses with an extra-large pizza
A recent study found that on the Monday following a loss, fans of the losing team increased their saturated fat and sugar consumption, while the winning teams’ fans celebrated with healthier foods.
Why is this so?
The researchers hypothesized that, when a favorite team loses, people feel an identity threat and are more likely to use eating as a coping mechanism. Winning, on the other hand, seems to provide a boost to people’s self-control.
“There’s such a strong emotional component to eating, or over-eating,” says Dr. Jennifer DeBruler, an internal medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group, who is also board-certified in obesity medicine. “While I can’t see Bears fans keeping a food diary, at least recognizing that watching their team lose may be a trigger is a helpful first step.”
The authors of the study agree. “Even if you are rooting for a perennial loser, there is a solution if you are concerned about healthy eating: After a defeat, write down what is really important to you in life,” says Yann Cornil, researcher at INSEAD Business School and lead author of the study. “In our studies, this simple technique, called ‘self-affirmation,’ completely eliminated the effects of defeats.”
So, football fans, what should you eat after your team suffers a loss?
“You can disguise some of your normal fat-filled foods by making some key substitutions,” Dr. DeBruler says. “For example, if you’re making chili or burgers, you use lean ground turkey rather than beef. Rather than a bowl of chips, you could have mixed nuts with dried fruits in it as a trail mix, or even popcorn. And as with anything, you need to control your portions. So even though you might be cooking with ground turkey, you should limit the amount that you eat.”
Dr. DeBruler also reminds us that obesity can be a risk factor for a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. So keep your gut in check, even if your team blows the big game.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.