Healthy food choices are happy food choices

Research suggests that “healthy” food choices such as eating fruits and vegetables have not only physical but also mental health benefits and might be a long-term investment in future well-being. This view contrasts with the belief that high-caloric foods taste better, make us happy, and alleviate a negative mood. To provide a more comprehensive assessment of food choice and well-being, we investigated in-the-moment eating happiness by assessing complete, real life dietary behaviour across eight days using smartphone-based ecological momentary assessment. Three main findings emerged: First, of 14 different main food categories, vegetables consumption contributed the largest share to eating happiness measured across eight days. Second, sweets on average provided comparable induced eating happiness to “healthy” food choices such as fruits or vegetables. Third, dinner elicited comparable eating happiness to snacking. These findings are discussed within the “food as health” and “food as well-being” perspectives on eating behaviour.