Study: The Hungrier You Are, the More Certain Foods Appeal to You

By , SparkPeople Blogger
One thing I don’t have patience for is being hungry.   I’ve never been one of those people who can go all day without remembering to eat.  My body is like an alarm clock, and when the buzzer goes off that it’s time to eat, it just keeps getting louder until I do something about it.  When I get really hungry, the first thing I grab for is usually a granola bar or something else that’s high in carbohydrates.  I always figured that’s because it’s quick and easy, but new research shows that my growling stomach could be causing me to gravitate toward these types of foods.
The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, put 128 college students into one of two groups:  those who fasted for 18 hours before lunch, and those who did not (the control group.)  Then both groups were presented with a lunch buffet containing 2 starches, 2 vegetables, 2 proteins and a drink.  The study was conducted over a 12-day period, and the order of the foods on the table was randomly rotated. 
“Those in the group that had fasted, it turned out, were more likely to begin their meals with starches, eating the bread or French fries before anything else about a third of the time, compared with just over 10 percent of the time with the control group. Those who fasted were also less likely to eat vegetables first. Only a quarter of them did so, compared with about half of the people in the control group.”  Researchers also found that participants ate almost 50% more calories of whatever food they started their meal with, compared with the other foods that were offered.  What you choose to eat first is strongly correlated with how much you end up consuming.     
So what does this mean for you?  A few small changes in your eating routine could add up to big results when you step on the scale:
  • Try not to go too long in between meals.  If you’re starving, you’re more likely to make worse food choices and/or overeat.  As the study concludes, you’re more likely to choose the higher carbohydrate foods versus low-calorie fruits and vegetables. 
  • Start your meal with a big glass of water and perhaps, a salad.  Those foods will fill you up a little bit; making it less likely that you’ll overindulge on the higher-calorie main course (and dessert.)
  • Have healthy snacks on hand for the times when you are hungry and need to grab something quick.  I’d be less likely to grab a granola bar if I had some fruits and vegetables already chopped up and waiting for me.
For more tips, check out how to Overcome Overeating and  85 Strategies for Dining Out.
What do you think?  When you’re hungry, do you tend to gravitate toward higher carbohydrate foods?