Even if you’re currently in a happy relationship, at some point you’ve probably experienced heartbreak, and many of us have been the stereotypical person grabbing a pint of ice cream out of the freezer to soothe our pain.
In 2004’s ”Edge of Reason” film adaptation, Bridget Jones famously wrapped herself in a comforter and scooped up Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to chase away her love triangle blues. “Scary Movie 3” took the image a step further when Anna Faris and Regina Hall ate from a colossal tub of ice cream. Whether it’s “The Incredibles’” Violet turning invisible and crying over a pint, “SNL” host Emma Stone eating ice cream and crying while listening to Adele, Rory Gilmore “wallowing” or powerhouse Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez posting an Instagram story of enjoying Stephen Colbert’s Ben & Jerry’s Americone Dream after a long day of battling haters, most of the ice cream mollycoddling we see in pop culture focuses on women.
Besides happy childhood memories, where did this idea of eating ice cream when we’re sad come from, and does fat and sugar actually help us mitigate sadness?
Ashley Gearhardt, a University of Michigan associate professor of psychology and a clinical psychologist, performs research at the university’s FAST (Food Addiction Science and Treatment) Lab. Her focus is on the association between highly processed junk foods and whether they trigger addictive properties similar to cigarettes and booze.
“Our brains are really set up to find highly caloric things rewarding,” Gearhardt told HuffPost. “Ice cream has two of the ingredients that we’re engineered to have a big reward response to: fat and sugar. We’ve gotten so good at mass-producing these hyper-rewarding foods. Now it’s not just chocolate [ice cream that does it for us]. It’s chocolate with chunks of marshmallow and fudge ripple in it.”
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