Listen up all you football fans: if your favorite team takes a loss, your weight may experience a gain. Recent research has revealed that fans of sports tend to ease their pain from watching their favorite team lose by indulging in junk food. According to the results of several studies of both American football fans and fans of French soccer, these fans took in more fat and sugar when their favorite teams lost the game. Researchers and experts in nutrition and psychology believe that sports fanatics who are feeling down after a loss are relying on comfort foods to handle uncomfortable emotions. After their team experiences a beatdown, sports fanatics often feel a lowered sense of self esteem and translate that team loss to their own personal failure.
In the recent studies, participants consumed additional calories (10 percent more) and 16 percent more artery-clogging saturated fat than their typical intake on the Monday following a team defeat. However, if the participants' NFL teams won, they consumed fewer calories and less saturated fat the Monday after the game. Emotional eating is quite common, but this is fairly new research linking emotional eating to team losses in sports.
Alternative Ways to Deal
Rather than diving head first into that bowl of chips leftover after the game, turn to other coping mechanisms other than overindulging in comfort foods to help ease your pain. Shift the focus from the team loss to things that revolve more around your core values. Experts call this "self-affirmation." The researchers behind the studies found that even after watching their favorite team go down, participants who wrote down ideas about their main life values preferred to snack on healthy foods (grapes and tomatoes) instead of chocolate or potato chips. Apparently, previous research has revealed that self-affirmation has helped people who may have taken part in addictive behaviors.
The main idea is to focus your thoughts on parts of your life that are more important to you than football (or whatever sport you may be depressed about). This might include your relationships with friends or family members, your career or your health.
Easy Stress-Relieving Tactics
When you feel depressed after watching your favorite team get defeated, steer clear of the junk food. Instead, try these stress-busting techniques.
Stash some healthy, low-calorie snacks nearby in order to prevent calorie-overload from eating comfort foods that are high in fat and calories. Have a veggie or fruit platter prepared or air-pop some popcorn. You can eat larger volumes of these foods for fewer calories.
Angry? Frustrated? "Do You Want to Take This Outside?" Do It!
Head outdoors and do something physical. Go for a walk or jog, or take your dog for a stroll around the neighborhood. Pretend to beat your rival team by playing some tag football with friends or family out in the yard or at a park. Engaging in any kind of physical activity is a great stress-reliever. Exercise also helps your body release serotonin, a feel-good hormone, which may help thwart depression.
Take Part in Your Own Relaxing Activities
Take a long bath, call a friend, exercise, play with your children, listen to music or do yoga. Any activity that makes you feel good and takes your mind off of a depressing team defeat will help you avoid emotional eating.
How to Indulge Without Overindulging
Kari Hartel, RD, LD is a Registered, Licensed Dietitian and freelance writer based out of St. Louis, MO. Kari is passionate about nutrition education and the prevention of chronic disease through a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Kari holds a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Southeast Missouri State University and is committed to helping people lead healthy lives. She completed a yearlong dietetic internship at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, IL, where she worked with a multitude of clients and patients with complicated diagnoses. She planned, marketed, and implemented nutrition education programs and cooking demonstrations for the general public as well as for special populations, including patients with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, and school-aged children. Contact Kari at KariHartelRD@gmail.com.