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Color, Mood and Food

An interesting article on how colors affect the brain in the May 2009 issue of Mind, Mood & Memory (published by Massachusetts General Hospital) might help tweak your eating for the better. Scientists concluded that certain colors stimulate creativity, focus, attention to detail, problem-solving, and relaxation. This information is not earth-shattering, but I offer it in the hope that you can use it to make your kitchen and dining area the most supportive it can be for “normal” eating.

Here’s what the article (“Color Me Creative: How Colors Affect the Brain”) has to say:
RED is stimulating, increases blood pressure, pulse and respiration rate; energizes, increases attention and vigilance; promotes anxiety, improves memory; promotes interest in food and sex.
ORANGE increases blood pressure, respiration, heart rate; increases appetite, reduces fatigue, fosters sociability.
YELLOW stimulates memory, awareness, and perception; raises pulse and respiration rates; engenders hope and optimism.
GREEN is soothing, relaxing, calming; reduces anxiety; fosters feelings of self-control.
BLUE is calming; increases happiness and boosts confidence and creativity; promotes risk-taking; has a cooling effect; lowers pulse and respiration rate; reduces blood pressure.
PINK is soothing and tranquilizing; lowers anxiety; reduces aggression and hostility.
BLACK is relaxing; lowers blood pressure, respiration and pulse rates.

The authors describe how color shapes mood: ”Colored light is absorbed by the eyes, then converted into electrical impulses that affect the brain’s hypothalamus gland—a brain structure which regulates temperature, blood pressure, respiration, and other functions, and stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands to secrete hormones that help control the body’s internal environment.” Colors have varying affects on the autonomic nervous system which is usually out of our control but still regulates our moods.

Take a minute to consider the color of your walls, dishes, and cabinets in your kitchen and dining area. Do they soothe or jazz you up? What color changes could you make—obvious or subtle—to help you feel more relaxed while eating? If you can, try out some different colors and see if you notice any change in how you feel around food.