Diet and Life Satisfaction

Last week I wrote about a study on what happy people tweet. But there’s some research out that looks at another question: what do happy people eat?

I always just assumed there must be a strong positive relationship between number of Oreos consumed and overall happiness, but it turns out I was wrong. What the study actually found was that happy people are more likely to:

  • Eat breakfast. The single greatest predictor of happiness the study found was eating breakfast on a daily basis.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables. People who ate at least eight servings of fruits and vegetables a day were happier overall.
  • Eat lots of meals. The more people ate the happier they were on average. The happiest group of all was people who ate three meals a day and one or two snacks.

The study wasn’t focused on figuring out the cause and effect, but the least we can conclude is that it can’t hurt to eat your broccoli when you wake up every day (or something like that).

This isn’t the first indication that certain eating habits are associated with psychological benefits either. A 2015 study found that people who ate more fruits and vegetables were more curious and more creative in addition to being happier.

And it’s not just that people who ate more fruits and vegetables tended to have these traits. On a day-to-day basis, people were happier, more curious and more creative on days when they ate more fruits and vegetables!

Both these studies were conducted on university students, but one was done in Iran and the other in the UK, suggesting there’s something universal about the relationship between happiness and healthy eating habits.

So yes, as shocking as it may be, there’s no evidence that you can find happiness at the bottom of a carton of ice cream. Try looking in a bowl of blueberries, on the other hand, and you might have more luck!