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Your Relationship With Food

Not everyone has a good relationship with food, but a good diet contributes to optimal health. Some people battle with their plate and with body image issues. The act of eating if often prevalent with strong emotions like boredom, stress, and guilt. Looking for relief, people reach for a slice of cake, setting them down a path of unhealthy behaviours. Next, it’s snacking in the middle of the night, foregoing proper portion sizes, skipping meals, and other untoward habits. Then comes a cycle of on-and-off, short-term dieting that rarely, if ever, leads to permanent weight loss.

Cues That Stimulate Hunger

When researchers at the University of Michigan tested the effects of food cues—such as seeing pictures of fast food, smelling food or being in a restaurant environment—on the dietary habits of 112 college students, they found that these cues stimulate hunger and cause people to want foods they don’t even necessarily like to eat. For the purpose of this study, published in the November 21, 2017, issue of Clinical Psychological Science, the researchers define wanting as feeling strongly motivated, and liking as resulting in hedonistic pleasure.


Understanding Visual Advertising

Previous studies found that when people are blindfolded before eating, their food loses what has been called “visual flavour,” so they not only eat significantly less food, they feel just as satisfied after a larger meal. In other words, without visual cues, smaller portions were just as filling as larger portions.


If you are concerned about what and how much you are eating, especially when it comes to supermarket convenience and food from fast food chains, it may help to understand (and ultimately try to avoid) some of the visual advertising strategies used by food manufacturers and chain restaurants that drive some of your decisions to buy and eat certain foods. An awareness of food cues helps you distinguish false hunger from the real thing, and that’s certainly a step toward more careful eating.


To read more about weight control visit Psychology Today .