Eating makes a person happier

Which food makes you happy?

“Does food make you happy? And if so, which one and how? ”Researchers at the Institute for Nutritional Psychology at the Georg-August University in Göttingen investigated these questions on behalf of the Heinz Lohmann Foundation.


In a representative survey of more than 1,000 participants in Germany, the nutrition psychologist Dr. Thomas Ellrott and the ecotrophologist Dr. Carolin Hauck: The happiest are hearty dishes that are combined with conviviality with family and friends and emotions such as security, attention and tranquility. In addition to classic meat dishes such as roasts and roulades, these include pasta dishes with and without meat. The notorious chocolate is rarely mentioned. Hearty classics are well ahead in Germany's kitchens and minds: 32 percent of those surveyed named classic meat dishes as the food that makes them happy. "Taste is learned", explains the nutritional psychologist Dr. Thomas Ellrott: "Family meals slow down, strengthen bonds, provide social support, security and security." When asked about their own favorite dish, the majority of the 47-year-old study participants stated elaborate meat dishes, such as steak, sauerbraten, roulade and schnitzel. Because: "Today's favorite dishes reflect the menu of the 50s and 60s," continues Ellrott. Another 28 percent of respondents named pasta dishes such as lasagna and spaghetti with or without meat as food that can make them happy. The scientist explains that pasta is on the advance by the fact that in private households cooking is now less expensive and at the same time more international than it used to be. For the future, the researchers suspect: "We will rediscover today's family menu in the favorite dishes of the adults of the day after tomorrow."

Men prefer meat

The dessert category, to which the scientists also counted fruit, came third in the survey (six percent). The notorious chocolate, associated with feelings of happiness by many, ranks far behind, even behind vegetables. Ellroth: “When we combine food with happiness, we obviously think of sociable eating situations, of elaborately prepared dishes, and not of the quick snack between the door and the hinge. "When it comes to chocolate and cake, the aspects of sociability and togetherness are missing."

It is different with the common cliché that men prefer meat when eating: the researchers confirmed this prejudice. Women more often named pasta dishes, salads and vegetables, potato dishes and desserts as their favorite food, while men usually named classic meat dishes. The two researchers suspect social role models as the cause: "Meat stands for hunting and for physical strength."

Eating as a social campfire

As early as 2004, the Israeli-American psychologist Daniel Kahnemann identified food - in addition to intimate relationships, socializing, relaxing and praying or meditating - as a main source of happiness in everyday life. As Ellrott and Hauck show, it is not just taste and the enjoyment that makes people happy: "If a food is consumed in a positive context, it also has an impact on the taste of the food." About 75 percent of the evaluable responses related to enjoyment, taste, atmosphere, society and emotional aspects, what has to be fulfilled for food to make you happy. “Eating is a social campfire. The additional social benefit, which is strongly dependent on the context, contributes to the feeling of happiness beyond the individual sensual enjoyment, "says Ellrott:" Food has an emotional impact and awakens memories of feelings of belonging and security through the sense of smell and taste. "The favorite dishes of today reflect the menu of the 50s and 60s.

The factors for happiness in life

81 percent of all respondents said that eating can make them happy. This makes eating an important factor in perceived happiness. The researchers made a distinction: happiness means something completely different in connection with food than in connection with security and prosperity. How we eat does not depend on fateful circumstances: "While we can now decide for ourselves what we eat where and with whom, the happiness we can feel while eating also depends heavily on personal decisions and attitudes," said so Ellrott: "In the context of nutrition, we have to understand happiness as a state, as happiness in life." People who feel happy while eating and are able to enjoy themselves are generally happier in life than others. People who live by strict dietary rules - whether self-imposed or necessary for health reasons - have a lower happiness score.
Source: afz - general butcher newspaper 10/2020