For sports fans the Fall means two things, Major League Baseball playoffs and the kick-off of the NFL season.
While summer BBQs, frozen fruit cocktails, and ice cream may no longer be the biggest threat to our waistline, the coming of high-stress sports games may bring their own share of hurdles for anyone trying to be “good” with their diet.
I recently read a “no-duh” article from the Journal of the Association for Pyschological Science. It linked an increase in consumption of fat and sugar for disappointed sports fans. The concept of using food as a coping mechanism is nothing new; however, it is interesting to see that there is science to prove it.
Researchers compiled two football seasons worth of data, in over two dozen cities. They followed NFL sports fans and determined the amount and types of foods these fans consumed following a win or a loss of their favorite team. The control group consisted of individuals from cities that did not support an NFL team, and individuals who’s favorite teams did not play on the same day.
Moral of the story: “winners” consumed 9% less calories from high saturated fat foods than their normal, non-game day consumption. “Losers” consumed 16% more calories from high saturated fat foods compared to their non-game day normal. To make matters worse, higher consumption of sugary, fatty foods was found to occur when a loss came down to wire. The bigger the disappointment, the worse food choices fans made.
The researchers suggest that while disappointed sports fans use eating as a coping mechanism, fans that are celebrating a win feel a boost in their self-control.
Whether you root for the constant winner or your team has never won in your lifetime, the beauty of sports is that no fan is ever safe from disappointment. On any given day your team (or your partners team) can bite the dust. The key (just like in life!) is how we handle the disappointment.
Knowledge is power! Knowing that losing a close game one may give you the inclination to polish off the remaining bag of potato chips, may cause you to think twice. Or maybe you’ll decide not to order the same entrée as your disappointed partner, who is actually just nursing his or her wounds.