Many of us are guilty of stuffing our faces with junk food when we’re feeling blue. But who would’ve guessed a happier mood is a step towards healthier eating choices?

That’s exactly what these studies published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology reveals. The four studies that examined how and why mood affects food choice, yielded consistent results. In these studies, mood was manipulated to allow participants to experience positive, neutral and negative mood. When they experienced a bad mood they preferred indulgent foods. But when they were in a happy mood, they preferred healthier foods than indulgent foods. A happy mood is linked with valuing long-term goals, such as maintaining ones health – so they choose healthier foods, say researchers. On the flip side, a bad mood is linked to a focus on short-term goals – such as boosting mood and energy, leading people to eat indulgent foods to impact their mood positively.

“You can change your mood and eat better. Before a snack or meal, think of something that makes you happy and grateful, and you’ll eat less and better,” says Dr Brian Wansink who led the studies.