Often wonder why we tend to overeat? No doubt well cooked food smells heavenly and tastes delicious. Without a second thought, we may eat more than what we should have. If you are trying to lose weight, it is important to pay attention to the internal hunger and fullness cues that your body signals. In today’s urban scene of food abundance, it is easy to find addictive foods that hit our ‘bliss point’. They most often come loaded with fat, salt and/ or sugar which are pleasurable to our sense of taste. But are there certain cues hidden out in the open that we tend to miss? How important is colour as a visual trigger? Cognitive neuroscience now actively researches how certain colours and food images impact our physiological and psychological responses to food. Looking at food and its colour stimulates the neurons in our brain, our salivary glands are activated and produce more saliva preparing for a meal. Our hunger may start at the visual level first, pair this with food aesthetics and cognition and you are bound to notice how these cues affect our eating behaviour.
External cues like colour seems to play an important yet understated role in regulating our appetite.
Known as an appetite stimulating colour, red is a powerful and vibrant colour. This is known to increase blood pressure and heart rate. It is also associated with feelings of energy and passion, which is perhaps why we feel a surge in hunger when we see red. Food joints subtle inclusion of red in their logo’s, menu’s and interiors seem to play this association to their advantage. Notice the logos of several fast food joints? Pizza Hut’s red roof, KFC’s Colonel and the red background, Mc. Donald’s yellow M is on a red background, Kwality Walls and their red concentric heart design. Closer home-Kissan, Haldirams, Sunfeast all use red in their logos.
Orange is a colour associated with warmth and inclusion. The fiery orange of a sunset or healthy orange foods- pumpkins, carrots and oranges. This colour is also associated with comfort. When one feels warm and comfortable it is quite easy then to stir up appetite. Orange serves as a subtle hunger cue. But can also be used as an energy booster, the fiery colour is often found on sports clothing and accessories to help boost energy and motivation.
The colour of sunshine and happiness! The brain secretes the feel-good hormone or serotonin when you see yellow. Being a bright colour, it stands out in most surroundings. Some restaurants place yellow flowers on the table to elicit a sense of happiness which may encourage diners to splurge and have larger portion sizes!
A colour associated with fresh and healthy eating. We tend to associate green with a food being safe and healthy, this may be due to mankind’s earlier primal instincts. While foraging, plants and shrubs were among the safest and non-poisonous options available. Salads with green vegetables are believed to be healthy, it is also said to be the colour of prosperity and abundance.
Violets, Indigo and Blues:
Purple and Violet hues are very seldom found in nature. These colours are found in foods like brinjal and purple cabbage which is something not everyone is fond of. Blue is in fact known as an appetite suppressant. In nature, blues, purples and blacks were associated with poisonous or toxic foods. Research says that blue lighting also acts as an appetite suppressant. For those who crave those midnight munchies, installing a blue light in the fridge may help ward off late night hunger pangs.
Allow colour to change your life. These cues can also be useful while designing your home. Blues have a calming influence and can be used in the bedroom. Yellows can be used for the sitting room as this gives a feeling of happiness. Reds and oranges can be used around the place where you exercise to give you that much needed visual stimulus! When it comes to eating, our eyes are the first sense that the food needs to pass even before we get to tasting it! Paying attention to these subtle cues can actually help make, informed and healthy choices.
With inputs from:
3. Eating with our eyes: From visual hunger to digital satiation, Brain and Cognition, Charles S et al., Volume 110, 2016, Pages 53-63, ISSN 0278-2626, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandc.2015.08.006. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278262615300178),