Quarter of Americans stressed ‘all the time’ — but cooking might be key to calm

NEW YORK — Seven in 10 Americans consider cooking and eating as the sixth “love language.” The poll of 2,000 adults who cook regularly reveals that 80% use food as a way to comfort themselves after a stressful day and 65% will use food as a way to comfort others.

Ice cream was crowned as the top go-to comfort food (34%), followed closely by pizza (31%), pasta (24%), burgers (22%), and grilled cheese (19%).

Over three-quarters (78%) agree cooking is a calming task for them to do, and it was ranked as the top activity people do when they need to relieve stress (65%), more than twice as high as the second leading choice: cleaning (31%).

People also turn to chores like gardening (30%), doing laundry (25%), and folding laundry (23%) to reduce stress.

Infographic on the tasks that relieves stress for some Americans
(Credit: SWNS)

Just about everyone is feeling stressed

Commissioned by Noom and conducted by OnePoll, the study finds that by the end of the day, 90% feel some degree of stress. Over a quarter (28%) claimed to feel stressed “all the time” or “often” after their day is done. 

People feel their end-of-the-day stress is most often caused by their job (40%), their to-do list (32%), and their social life (28%).

Eighty-nine percent say it’s important to them that they feel mentally healthy, which could explain why 81% try to make sure they’re stress-free and worry-free by the time they go to bed.

Four in five will at least occasionally find themselves reflecting on their day while doing the daily tasks they enjoy, which were found to mirror the tasks that relieve stress. Respondents say they enjoy tasks such as cooking (80%), cleaning (43%), doing laundry (41%), gardening (39%), and folding laundry (34%).

“It’s easy to find a task like cooking to be therapeutic and relaxing,” says spokesperson Dr. Andreas Michaelides, Ph.D., chief of psychology at Noom, in a statement. “It’s a way to focus on a singular task, practice reflection, and create something positive that nourishes you and makes you feel good.”

Ways we wind down

According to the findings, the most effective ways to relieve stress at the end of the day include listening to music (35%), watching TV (34%), taking a bath or shower (34%), eating a comfort meal (23%), or cooking for themselves (21%).

As one in five turn to social feeds for stress relief, respondents also share the types of social media videos they felt were either beneficial or detrimental to their mental health: cooking videos (85%), animal videos (76%), and music videos (72%) were all beneficial.

Two in three (65%) find food-related media, like cooking shows and videos, to be relaxing and a third “always” or “often” watches food-related media to unwind before bed. The average person watches 13 food-related videos in any given week. 

The best food media personalities and chefs to watch are Gordon Ramsey (30%), Guy Fieri (24%), Alton Brown (18%), Uncle Roger (15%), and Matty Matheson (14%).

“Of course, staying on social media for too long will start to make you feel burnt out and stressed. But it’s interesting to see what types of content people interpret as beneficial for their mental well-being and see it follow the pattern of food being a key component in relieving stress.” Michaelides adds.

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 Americans who cook on a regular basis was commissioned by Noom between November 3 and November 8, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).


  1. Is this why Americans live shorter lives than most second world nations?

    Or is it because they are genetically inferior?

  2. Excluding fatal injuries the the United States has the highest life expectancy in the world.

    We’re a very large, ethnically diverse country. Americans are wealthy so we can afford to buy automobiles, we have to drive a lot further to get where we’re going, so we have more automobile deaths. We have a lot more racial and ethnic diversity so we have more conflicts, so we have more homicides. Very different compared to hugely White Europe or hugely ethnically Japanese Japan.

    About the only other county we can be compared to is Brazil and both countries have about the same life expectancy.

  3. One thing not mentioned is that in some families, cooking is a social activity, a sort of preprandial cocktail hour with light conversation and samples of the dishes to come.

    Any activity, cooking, skiing, cyclying, piano playing, whatever, that requires a fair amount of focus can be a great stress reliever.

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