Emotional eating is defined as a practice where you reach out to certain 'comfort foods' or junk food, but the urge is not necessarily propelled by hunger. For example, some people resort to food as a coping mechanism to deal with negative feelings. Some people like to munch into something because they are anxious. Many studies and experts have linked emotional eating with weight gain, but this latest study published in the Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium offers a different view.
The study investigated the German concept of 'kummerspeck' -- excess weight gain due to emotional eating -- which literally translates to 'grief bacon'.
Marissa Harrison, associate professor of psychology at Penn State Harrisburg, said that hoarding food after a breakup was a pattern common with humans thousands of years ago, modern humans may have grown out of the habit.
"Food was much scarcer in the ancestral environment, so if your partner abandoned you, it could have made gathering food much harder," Harrison said.
"It may have made sense if our ancestors hoarded food after a breakup. But our research showed that while it's possible people may drown their sorrows in ice cream for a day or two, modern humans do not tend to gain weight after a breakup," added Harrison.
It has been proved in various studies that people sometimes use food as a way to cope with negative feelings and that emotional eating can lead to unhealthy food choices. Since breakups can prove to be tough for some, people could resort to food as a coping mechanism.
According to scientists, ancient relationship dynamics may have made packing on the pounds after a breakup evolutionary advantageous.
For the study, the researchers completed two studies to test the theory that people may be more likely to gain weight after a relationship breakup.
But surprisingly, most of the participants -- 62.7 per cent -- reported no weight change. Surprised by the results, the team also decided to perform an additional study.
For the second study, participants reported experiencing a break up at some point in their lives, the majority of participants -- 65.13 per cent -- reported no change in weight after relationship dissolution.
"We were surprised that in both studies, which included large community samples, we found no evidence of kummerspeck," Harrison said.
"The only thing we found was in the second study, women who already had a proclivity for emotional eating did gain weight after a relationship breakup. But it wasn't common," continued Harrison.
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