Does Ice Cream Really Help Boost Your Mood?

When you’re feeling blue, there’s nothing quite like a spoonful or ten of ice cream to lift your spirits, is there? That’s why so many of us keep a tub of ice cream in the freezer at all times—just to boost our mood when we’ve had a rough day.

But is ice cream really going to boost your mood, or is it just another sweet treat you eat because you THINK it will help? The answer might surprise you…

The Truth: Ice Cream Won’t Help

When you fill your face with heaping spoonfuls of ice cream, you’re probably doing so in the hopes that it will make you feel better. But the sad truth is that ice cream is NOT going to be the solution to your moody blues.

There are a few sweets that can improve your mood, such as chocolate (which produces the neurochemicals that send pleasure and happiness signals to your brain). Ice cream, however, is not going to help at all. No neurochemicals are produced, your circulation isn’t improved, and the only thing that changes is your blood sugar level.

Why You Crave Ice Cream

Ice cream, cookies, sweets, and anything with sugar in it are highly addictive. Simply put, sugar is as much an addiction as caffeine and nicotine.

When you "feel the need" for something sweet, there are two reasons why this happens:

  1. Your blood sugar levels are low. This is common at the end of a long day, or if you haven’t eaten carbs all day long.
  2. You feel a withdrawal from the effects of processed sugar. When we eat sugary foods, our bodies release a flood of beta-Endorphins. This helps to dull our pain and makes us feel better. When you are moody, you want to feel better, so your body tells you that sugar is the solution. This is why you crave ice cream when you are feeling down.

The Secret of Comfort Foods

The sad truth is that ice cream—and all those other sweet comfort foods—are going to do little to nothing for your mood. You’ll feel better for a few minutes but that "better" feeling will go away quickly. Eating ice cream for a bad mood is like taking a sugar pill for cancer—it’s called the "placebo effect".

In one study, a group of participants were asked to select foods that they thought would boost their mood. After watching a short video that made them feel angry, sad, or afraid, they were given:

  • A granola bar
  • Their comfort food
  • A food they liked (but didn’t think would have any effect on their mood)
  • Nothing

The experiment was repeated four times, and each time they were given one of the above.

As expected, the participants were all affected negatively by the video, and it made them angry, afraid, or sad. But after just three minutes, their mood improved, and the food they ate had NO effect on their mood. In fact, those who didn’t eat anything felt just as good as those who ate comfort foods or a granola bar.

That’s the sad truth about ice cream and all the other comfort foods: they’re as effective as eating or doing nothing. You will feel better over time, and ice cream will not affect your mood at all. Understanding that will help you realize that eating ice cream is just adding too many calories and too much sugar to your diet, promoting poor health while doing nothing for your mood!