Color is a very powerful stimulant. We choose colors for our clothes, our hair, our houses, and more because of how they affect our moods and motivation. Did you know that color plays a big role in our eating habits, too? The colors that have an impact on eating are red, yellow, green, white, and blue.
Red is an appetizing color, which means when we see red food, we tend to dig in. This may have something to do with our evolutionary backgrounds; when we see red, the color of blood, we think, “Life.” A lot of red foods are even good for our hearts, so it’s an easy way to remember to eat tomatoes, red bell peppers, tart cherries, and so on. Oddly enough, eating off red plates helps people eat less. It acts as a stop sign that tells us to slow down and not overeat.
Pink, though it’s a close cousin to red, is not an appetizing color. This is probably because pink does not appear that often in nature, so our brains think “unnatural” and therefore, “bad.”
Yellow is known to be a happy color that actually promotes the release of serotonin in the brain, which is classified as a “feel-good” hormone. Yellow has been shown to stimulate appetite. When we see yellow or orange food, we think, “Happy,” and are more likely to indulge because we feel good. If you’re feeling down, eating bananas, scrambled eggs, carrots, pineapple, and more can help lift your spirits.
Green is good
When we see green, our minds associate it with healthy and nutritious. Again, our evolutionary biology may play a role here, because our ancestors ate a lot of plants. We tend to see green foods as safe. Dark green in particular is good, so think dark leafy greens like kale and spinach. For a quick check on your health, ask yourself how many green foods are you eating. If it isn’t a lot, it’s time to stock up.
White isn’t right
White is a bland color, and is associated with over-consumption. When we see white, our eyes glaze over, and we stop thinking about how much we’re eating. This is especially true when you eat white foods on white plates. You’re much less satisfied and prone to overeating. White foods also tend to have less nutritional value and are full of empty calories, so to feel satisfied, we eat more.
Blue is unnatural
Scientists have found that the color that is most unappetizing to humans is blue. Why? The reason could be that there are so far naturally-blue foods in the world that our ancestors rarely came across them. When they did find stuff that was blue, black, or even purple, it often meant it was poisonous. Our brains are telling us to avoid them. This is true when foods that aren’t usually blue are dyed that color; in studies, people found the dyed food much less appealing even if they knew the item tasted good.
Diets have latched unto this fact as a tool. Putting a blue light in your fridge can make the food there seem less appetizing, and eating off blue plates can reduce the amount you consume. There’s even a Japanese company that made blue-tinted glasses back in 2008, especially for weight loss. You could also just buy some blue-tinted sunglasses to see if it works.
For more on how color affects your mood, check out this article on interior decorating.