As if things couldn’t get worse for Denver Broncos fans: a Super Bowl blowout could lead to weight gain and not just because of all the wings you might have downed by halftime. According to new research published in the journal Psychological Science, bummed-out fans of a losing team tend to bury their woes underneath a heaping pile of fat and sugar on the Monday following a big football game. The good news: the study focused on cities of team’s that are perennial losers. People living in cities of losing teams inhaled about 16% more saturated fat versus what they normally ate. On the other hand, fans of winning teams consumed 9% less saturated fat than their usual Monday meal plan. “People eat better when their football team wins and worse when it loses, especially if they lost unexpectedly, by a narrow margin, or against a team of equal strength,” say study researchers Yaan Cornil and Pierre Chandon at INSEAD Business School.
Cornil and Chandon tracked food consumption following the outcomes of two seasons’ worth of NFL games. To further test their findings, the researchers conducted a separate study that asked French volunteers—mostly soccer fans, of course—to write about a time when their favorite team won or lost, while munching on a choice of snacks: potato chips, chocolate, grapes and cherry tomatoes. Those reliving the agony of defeat were more likely to reach for the fatty stuff, while those replaying the game-winning goal in their minds went with the healthier options.
So, what’s the game plan for backers of the Bills, Browns, Jags, and other perennial losers? Cornil and Chandon found that if losing fans immediately jot down what was important to them—in other words, adopting an “it’s just a game” mentality—they were less likely to use bad eats as a coping mechanism. Of course, no one ever said sports fanatics were rational.
Here are 10 healthy tailgating ideas to keep you from blowing up like a linebacker.