Comfort eating is a common problem faced by dieters, but it could be more complicated than simply eating when we feel down.
Bad news - even if not directly related to us - has been found to make us eat more calories, as our body tries to stock up for fear of future hardship.
Listening to worrying news about the economy, the recession and other depressing news stories makes our bodies crave calories –rather than taste – according to new research at the University of Miami.
The research team played different messages to volunteers and documented which foods they ate the most of. Those who had listened to negative news were more likely to eat foods they thought were high calorie.
[Related: Claire Nasir shares her weight loss diet]
So when the news is doom and gloom and it’s difficult to get away from, how can you stop yourself reaching for calorie-packed snacks?
We asked Nature’s Best independent nutritionist and food scientist Dr Sam Christie, PhD for her top tips:
1. Get up and move! Perhaps make a trip by stairs to the top floor and back a few times or go on an imaginary errand - here you are aiming to raise your heart beat a little and keep your cortisol and adrenalin in check. Aim for about 15 minutes of activity.
2. If you are hungry, then chose something like a protein loaded, low GI snack like a large handful of plain almonds or a Bounce ball (almond-based high protein snack) and keep you fluid intake sensibly high all day, since feeling dehydrated is often a cue for you to reach for less healthy food.
3. If you know you suffer from low mood regularly, use Hypericum (Hypericum perforartum; St John's Wort extract; one tablet daily, £13.95) for a 4-8 week course. This plant extract not only lifts low mood and anxiety but also sky-rockets your vitality.
4. The very latest research on fruit and veg is that if you opt for foods loaded in flavonoids each day (in particular black grapes, plums, blueberries, blackcurrants) you are much more likely to see the positive side of things - probably by virtue of the monamine-oxidase inhibitory effects. And they taste gorgeous! If you know these don't feature regularly enough in your daily diet use a supplement such as Colladeen (two tablets daily, £15.95)