Posted 10.25.2016 | by AMRA

chocolate_mood_170

Who doesn’t love chocolate? It’s one of the world’s most craved after foods due to its combined taste, pleasant physiologic effects, and past association with pleasant social events and youthful memories. It’s also alleged to have a positive effect on mood. Meier et al. [Appetite] explored chocolate’s ability to induce a pleasant mood and the degree to which mindfulness while eating influences its possible mood effect.

The researchers recruited 258 college students (65% female, 82% Caucasian, average age = 19) and randomly assigned them to one of four experimental conditions: a mindful chocolate condition, a mindful cracker condition, a non-mindful chocolate condition, and a non-mindful cracker condition. Participants were given either five pieces of chocolate candy or five plain water table crackers.

Before eating, participants listened to either an audio recording of mindfulness instructions similar to those used in the MBSR raisin eating meditation, or to brief control instructions telling them to eat one cracker at a time. The participants completed several self-report mood questionnaires both immediately before and after eating the chocolate or crackers. They also completed a food liking scale immediately after eating and rated mindfulness while eating using the Toronto Mindfulness Scale (TMS).

Participants in the mindfulness conditions scored significantly higher on the TMS, showing that the experimental manipulation effectively induced a mindful state (partial η2=.03). Participants in the mindfulness conditions enjoyed their food significantly more (partial η2=.02) than those in the non-mindful conditions, and those who ate the chocolate enjoyed their food significantly more than those who ate the crackers (partial η2=.08).

Participants in the mindfulness conditions also had significantly larger increases in positive mood after eating than did those in the non-mindful conditions (partial η2=.03), and those who ate chocolate had larger increases in positive mood than those who ate crackers (partial η2=.04).

There was also a significant interaction effect between mindfulness and food type (partial η2=.03): mindful chocolate eaters had a significantly larger increase in positive mood states than participants in the other three conditions. Mindfulness also significantly lowered levels of negative mood states (partial η2=.02). A mediation analysis showed that mindfulness increased food liking, which in turn improved mood.

The study shows that eating chocolate improves one’s mood, and that mindfully consuming chocolate does so even more. It suggests that learning to mindfully savor positive experiences may be an important route to improving one’s enjoyment of life and one’s emotional well-being.

Reference:

Meier, B. P., Noll, S. W., & Molokwu, O. J. (2017). The sweet life: The effect of mindful chocolate consumption on mood. Appetite, 108, 21-27.

[Link to abstract]