After they get home fro school and before they stat their homework, Joanne Drew says it's common for her kids to crave certain comfort foods. After all, days can be long and stressful, even at their age.
Joanne Drew says, "When you're stressed, you feel so out of control that you try to be in control, and to be in control, you eat."
In an effort to keep her family fit, Joanne looks for healthier ingredients in food whenever she can. But a new study suggests in stressful situations, that may not be as helpful as you might think.
Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser says, "What this tells us that stress really does interact with the type of food you're eating."
Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser led the study at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. To see how stress impacts diet, researchers fed 58 women two different meals.
Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser says, "One was a meal that was high in saturated fat, another was high oleic acid, sunflower oil, that's a healthier oil obviously than saturated fat."
After women ate the meal with saturated fat, blood tests showed their inflammation levels were higher. After the healthier meal, they were lower. Then researchers added stress into the equation.
Dr. Martha Belury says, "To our surprise, if women had a stressor the day before their meal, the type didn't matter."
In fact healthier types of fat had no benefit for women who were stressed. Their inflammation markers remained elevated.
Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser says, "That's important because those markers are associated with a variety of age related diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes."
And stress is even linked to some forms of cancer.
So if you want to get the most out of a healthy diet, a key ingredient, experts say, is managing your stress.