Americans chow down on 'sweet treats' and 'salty snacks' when they're sad but only 29% exercise to beat the blues

AMERICANS are more likely to turn to food as a mood-booster above any other coping mechanism, new data suggests.

A recent survey asked 2,000 respondents about the strategies they use when they’re in a bad mood, revealing that 43 percent will “eat something” to feel better.

For half of the respondents, the most popular food category they reached for was “sweet treats,” with “salty snacks” coming in second (38 percent). 

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Hope Foods, the research found that other commonly recommended methods for lifting one’s spirits didn’t prove to be nearly as popular. 

For example, only 32 percent of respondents say they stretch or exercise, while even fewer (29 percent) will go outside for some fresh air.

Although eating turned out to be the most popular short-term pick-me-up, only 25 percent of those polled believe that their diet has a major impact on their long-term mental health.

Instead, they were more likely to blame a bad mental health day on stressful life events (43 percent), poor sleep (34 percent), and stress in general (34 percent) before citing the effects of a poor diet (25 percent).

Similarly, respondents also cited stress (42 percent) and lack of sleep (42percent) as bigger mood-killers than hunger (35 percent) or even digestive problems (15 percent). 

What are America’s most popular short-term mood boosters?

  1. Eat something 43 percent
  2. Take a bath 40 percent
  3. Distract yourself with a book, TV show, etc. 37 percent
  4. Cook or bake 37 percent
  5. Meditation/deep breathing 37 percent
  6. Cleaned or tidied up 34 percent
  7. Exercise or stretches (e.g. yoga) 32 percent
  8. Go outside for fresh air 29 percent
  9. Talk to a friend or family member 26 percent
  10. Cuddle with a pet 18 percent
  11. Have a cocktail or other alcoholic beverage 10 percent

When asked what steps they’ve taken to improve their mental health on a long-term basis, almost four in 10 respondents preferred to focus on their sleeping habits (38 percent).

Around 36 percent revealed that they turned to their workout regime.

"What we choose to eat can have a huge impact on how we feel," said Nicole Pavlica, a nutrition health coach.

"Serotonin, the hormone that influences mood and feelings of happiness, is regulated by the gut.

"When the microbiome of the digestive system is optimized, all the body's systems work better — including the brain," she added. 

How Do Americans Try To Improve Their Mental Health?

Here are their top six activities:

  1. Changed my sleeping habits 38percent
  2. Changed my workout routine 36percent
  3. Changed my diet 35percent
  4. Gave up a bad habit 34percent
  5. Reduced sugar intake 32percent
  6. Taken vitamins or supplements 27percent

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