It’s no secret that sports fans take their teams really seriously. That a big win or a big loss is a truly emotional experience. But a new study shows that these wins and losses can also affect your weight.
Let’s say, the Seahawks win. The day after that win, the average ecstatic Seahawks fan will actually eat healthier than normal, decreasing their calorie intake by 5-10 percent. But if the Mariner’s lose, the hardcore Mariner’s fan might eat 16 percent more fat and 10 percent more calories the day after the loss. This, my friends, is emotional eating.
“When the Mariners were going good, you know, my weight was down,” says New York Vinnie, former KIRO radio talk host and current sports-talk host at KDKA in Pittsburgh. “When they started to go belly up, Boom! I started eating more. It’s a way to, I guess, make you feel better about your team. If they lose, at least you can take away some of the sting by stuffing yourself with food.”
New York Vinnie says this study is him to a tee.
“My regular breakfast, I eat strawberries and some yogurt. Maybe a little granola. I try to eat very healthy. But on a day like last Monday when the Steelers were looking so horrible, I hit the bagel shop and got a sausage and egg bagel. On the way to work I got a couple of Pop Tarts to eat with my coffee. I mean, I was scarfing it down while I’m doing the show!”
Yann Cornil co-authored the INSEAD study, and says they looked at the caloric intake of hundreds of Americans.
“What is very specific about sports and emotional eating with sports is this attachment with the team. For supporters, their team is part of their own identity. Strong sports supporters don’t say ‘the team lost’ or ‘they lost.’ They say ‘we lost.’ When the team loses it’s a direct threat to your identity. Then you can use fatty food, sweet food, in order to feel better about yourself.”
Vinnie says his weight can fluctuate a whopping 40 to 50 pounds, depending on how his teams are doing. His problem, as a sports broadcaster who has lived in many cities, is he is a fan of many teams.
“I still follow the Seahawks and the Mariners. I’ve learned not to eat with the Mariners, otherwise I’d be 900 pounds. You know, the Mets I still follow, the Steelers I follow. The Pirates, who this year are doing good. You know, it’s funny, I go to a Pirates game and I do the post-game show or something like that, I don’t even stop to eat! I come directly home, I have a piece of fruit and go to sleep. Because the Pirates are winning!”
Yann says sports induced emotional eating is more prevalent during a really close game and when rival teams are playing.
“When the game ended with a really close call and also especially in the cities with the most hardcore fans,” Yann says.
He says just being aware that you’re post-game binging can help you learn to control yourself. But if the Seahawks live up to their hype this season, we just might be a very skinny city.