Shopping when hungry proves detrimental to diet
The old adage, “Never shop when you’re hungry,” may have greater implications than just you wanting to buy everything in the store. Skipping meals can sabotage your shopping—and your diet, according to a new study from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab in Ithaca, N.Y. The study to be published in an upcoming issue of JAMA Internal Medicine revealed that hungry grocery shoppers buy 31 percent more high-calorie foods.
As part of the study, 68 people who fasted and skipped meals were either given food (Wheat Thins) to help fight their hunger or not given food at all to keep them hungry. Both groups were then asked to go shopping at a simulated grocery store.
The hungry shoppers who were not given food bought 18.6 percent more food—including 31 percent more high-calorie snacks.
At a follow-up study, researchers observed late-afternoon shoppers at an actual grocery story between lunch and dinnertime—the time when people tend to be the hungriest—and the hours just after lunch, when people tend to be content. The researchers found that late-afternoon shoppers bought 26.7 percent fewer low-calorie foods in comparison to their overall purchases as compared with those shopping after lunch.
“People skip meals for all sorts of reasons—dieting, fasting, insane schedules that make you forget to eat,” said lead author, Aner Tal, in a statement. Tal added that it doesn’t matter why you skipped a meal, it can still make you “buy more potato chips and ice cream and less baby carrots and skim milk.”
The best way to prevent this from happening is to “Make sure you don’t skip a meal, or at least have a snack like apples or string cheese in your office,” said Brian Wansink, co-author of the study, in a release.
“Breakfast is the most skipped meal, and even having something for lunch that has protein will cut your hunger edge,” he added.
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