How Colors affect Hunger and Appetite

On today more than most, when we sit down to celebrate Thanksgiving, our minds are often filled with what tasty delights will be on our dinner plates. The bright orange and red colors of sweet potatoes and cranberries accentuating the savory white colors of turkey and mashed potatoes, with dashes of brown gravy and stuffing with trimmings of bright greens from the green beans or brussels sprouts. There are few things as appealing to the appetite as a beautifully presented Thanksgiving dinner plate.

Research indicates that bright colors, such as reds and greens, are more appetizing than dark colors, such as purples and blues.

Research indicates that bright colors, such as reds and greens, are more appetizing than dark colors, such as purples and blues.

For most of us, the presentation of our food and the color of it can really impact our hunger and appetite. When you imagine colorful foods, the odds are that you’re brought to mind of leafy greens, bright reds, oranges, and yellows from peppers, fruits, and other veggies, as well as browns and beiges from cereals, meats and deep fried goods. That being said, it is rare to see blue in terms of natural food colors. Indeed, the skin of a blueberry is blue, and there are a few varieties of blue potatoes and plums, but it isn’t a common color to see on the dinner plate. The same goes for purples and blacks.

Therefore, it is now believed that because humans evolved with little to no blue, purple, and black in their diet, there is an instinctive inclination away from these colors in foods. This is especially true because many berries and plants in those colors were poisonous or toxic, so there would have been a further leaning away from those shades.

A great deal of recent research is supporting this idea, and the number of applications of this information is growing – especially in terms of nutrition and weight loss diets. For one thing, many processed food companies have found that blue foods have proven to be least appetizing in one marketing study after the next. For another, nutrition studies are discovering that blues, purples and blacks in foods will suppress the appetite – while greens, reds, yellows, and oranges excite the appetite.

The appeal of food is very closely related to its colors. The reason is that the sight of both food and colors will fire hypothalamus neurons in the brain. When people eat in the dark without being able to see what they are consuming, their enjoyment is greatly decreased. Food’s visual appeal means a lot when it comes to the overall enjoyment.

I recently saw a fine dining tv show that explored a new type of dining experience – eating in the dark. Apparently, eating in darkness is becoming a new rage and I was really curious about what the reviews were like from people who have tried one of these restaurants (I mean hey, if eating in the dark is better then we can all start saving some money on our hydro bills, right?). Not to my surprise, after reading about how important colors are for overall food enjoyment, I came across numerous “eating in the dark” restaurant reviews that claimed the food was below expectations.

So what does this all mean to dieting and losing weight? A study completed by the University of Washington showed that the perception of flavor can be altered based on color issues. What this means is if you are looking for a new way to decrease your portion sizes at meals without battling your hunger then adding appetite suppressant colors, such as blues, purples and blacks can have a significant impact. Some foods you may want to consider trying are blueberries, blackberries, black cherries, eggplant, purple grapes, black plums, blue potatoes, black beans, black rice, and purple cabbage. It’s hard to think of any foods that are really black – the only two I come up with are squid-ink pasta and my dinner when I’ve burnt it (neither of which I enjoy eating).

Today is a day to give thanks, and today I will not worry about how many reds, oranges, greens or other appetizing colors are on my dinner plate. I do plan to still follow my 10 Best Weight Loss Tips for Thanksgiving, both to minimize the damage and give my family a healthy feast I can be proud of. I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving – love your family, cherish your friends and remind yourself of all the things you have in your life to be thankful for. Bon Appetit!

Other Related Posts and Articles you May Find Interesting: “Foods that Boost Metabolism”, “L-Tryptophan and Weight Loss” and “Cranberry Juice for Urinary Tract Health”.


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