How Colors Affect Appetite: When To Eat Red, Yellow, Green, Blue + More

How Colors Affect Appetite

It’s no surprise that we live in an extremely visual culture. But who really knew that the way we perceive color, actually impacts how we eat.  

While some food shades (think red and oranges) can trigger hunger, other tones (hiya blue!) can actually work to suppress our appetite.

“We eat first with our eyes, so it’s no wonder that color and the appeal of various foods is also closely related,” says Rene Ficek, Lead Nutrition Expert at Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating. “The smell and sight of food fires neurons in the hypothalamus, giving all sorts of feedback.”

To see just how color impacts your food cravings, here are five shades to keep an eye on.

Colors Affect Appetite. Here’s How To Use It To Your Advantage.

Red Food Spikes Your Appetite, Red Plates Suppress It

Hoping to have just 1 Starburst. Steer clear of the red ones. Red foods tend to be very invigorating, as they raise blood pressure and help stimulate the appetite. However, this doesn’t necessarily apply to plates and dishware, as those who eat off of red plates tend to eat less.

“Foods that are red are found to stimulate appetite,” says Rebecca Lewis, in-house RD at HelloFresh. “However, research has shown that those who eat off of red plates tend to eat less when compared to other plate colors.”

Yellow Boosts Mood And Appetite

Want to make room for another serving of your favorite meal? Eye some yellow!

Much like exciting red tones, brighter yellow shades also help ignite your appetite, as these colors are often associated with feelings of excitement and happiness.

“Yellow is also an appetite-stimulating color, as it is associated with energy and happiness,” adds Ficek.

Green Can Keep Cravings Under Control

The color green tends to be associated with healthier foods, so it can be helpful to serve food items off of green plates if you are trying to make healthier choices.

“Green is often associated with vegetables and herbs – many will make the assumption that the flavor profile of green foods will be more bitter and tart,” says Lewis. “This could be one of the reasons why we aren’t always as excited to include these foods into our diet.” 

Blue Curbs Emotional Eating 

Blue is a calming color that helps soothe distressed feelings. Experts believe that blue has a similar impact with food as items placed on a blue plate usually leads to less intake.  

Craving cake? Enjoy it on a blue plate and your more apt to find that first piece satisfying.

“Blue has been shown continuously in studies to be the least appetizing color and may actually decrease appetite,” says Alix Turoff, RD of Top Balance Nutrition

Eating The Rainbow Has A Surprising Effect

But surprisingly, multi-colored items on your plate means eating more, as these items tend to be consumed much more than those with just a singular color.

“Research has found that people will eat more of a food if it contains a variety of colors as opposed to just one single color (even if that color is a person’s favorite),” says Lewis.

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