Fighting Stress With… Vegetables? — A New Study Examines The Coping Abilities Of Healthy Eaters

by | Jul 18, 2023

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Is that burger you are eating increasing your stress level? A study from Psychtests.com indicates that people with healthy eating habits also tend to be more resilient to stress.

Growing up, most people were told that eating vegetables would make them “big and strong,” but it turns out that it could also improve resilience to stress. According to research conducted by Psychtests.com, people who eat a healthy diet tend to be psychologically tougher, more optimistic, and use better stress management techniques than junk-food eaters.

Analyzing data collected from 1,456 people who took the Hardiness Test, PsychTests’ researchers compared people who only eat a healthy diet (“Healthy Eaters”) and those who don’t (“Junk Eaters”). Here’s what the study revealed:

HEALTHY EATERS SCORE HIGHER ON TRAITS RELATED TO MENTAL TOUGHNESS, INCLUDING:

  • Positive attitude towards change (score of 76 vs. 57 for Junk Eaters, on a scale from 0 to 100)
  • Openness to new experiences (score of 73 vs. 53 for Junk Eaters)
  • Internal locus of control, or the degree to which a person believes he or she has control over his/her life (score of 78 vs. 57 for Junk Eaters).
  • Positive mindset (score of 77 vs. 60 for Junk Eaters)
  • Self-esteem (score of 79 vs. 56 for Junk Eaters)
  • Self-efficacy (score of 77 vs. 52 for Junk Eaters)
  • Self-control (score of 70 vs. 54 for Junk Eaters)
  • Courage (score of 80 vs. 58 for Junk Eaters)
  • Perseverance (score of 77 vs. 58 for Junk Eaters)

HEALTHY EATERS USE HEALTHIER AND MORE EFFECTIVE STRESS MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES, INCLUDING:

  • Positive reframing (score of 81 vs. 61 for Junk Eaters)
  • Visualization (score of 68 vs. 50 for Junk Eaters)
  • Mindfulness (score of 66 vs. 43 for Junk Eaters)
  • Exercise (score of 77 vs. 47 for Junk Eaters)

JUNK EATERS, ON THE OTHER HAND, USE MORE MALADAPTIVE STRESS MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES, INCLUDING:

  • Rumination (score of 76 vs. 49 for Healthy Eaters)
  • Escapism/Fantasy (score of 77 vs. 62 for Healthy Eaters)
  • Somatization, or repressing stress until it becomes a physical ailment (score of 71 vs. 51 for Healthy Eaters)
  • Avoidance (score of 67 vs. 53 for Healthy Eaters)
Headshot of Dr. Ilona Jerabek, President & CEO, PsychTests

Dr. Ilona Jerabek, President & CEO, PsychTests

“The methods you use to cope with a stressor will determine how much of an impact it will have on you,” explains Dr. Ilona Jerabek, president of PsychTests. “If you lack healthy coping skills, you’re more likely to resort to ineffective ones that provide temporary relief at best, and one of those methods might be stress-eating or using food for comfort. Unfortunately, the unhealthy pattern doesn’t stop there. Our study has shown that people whose diet consists mostly or entirely of junk also happen to use a lot of really bad coping strategies. It’s a vicious cycle: a bad diet leads to poorly managed stress, and poorly managed stress often leads to bad eating habits.

In contrast, a healthy diet not only provides the physical strength and focus you need to manage a difficult situation, but it also heals the damage that stress does to your body in the first place. Nutritious food also reduces your risk of anxiety and depression and inhibits the growth of the problematic gut bacteria that signal your brain to eat sugary and other junk food.”

“We know it’s been drilled into your head since childhood, but eating your veggies really does make a huge difference, physically and psychologically. So, if you’re not big on vegetables, find a way to sneak them into your diet. Throw some spinach in a smoothie, add spices or cheese, or include a vegetable side dish with your favorite takeout meal. It’s not about eliminating all your favorite comfort foods; it’s about substituting at least some of them with healthier ones.”

Are you mentally tough? Check out the Hardiness Test at https://testyourself.psychtests.com/testid/4189

Professional users, such as HR managers, coaches, and therapists, can request a free demo for this or other assessments from ARCH Profile’s extensive battery: http://hrtests.archprofile.com/testdrive_gen_1

To learn more about psychological testing, download this free eBook: http://hrtests.archprofile.com/personality-tests-in-hr

About PsychTests AIM Inc.

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PsychTests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists and coaches, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. PsychTests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts (see ARCHProfile.com).

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