Psychologists answer how food choices are related to emotions

“Emotions experienced also determine the choice of food, the amount, place and time of eating, which is called the regulation of emotions with food. Sometimes people cannot find other ways to live, to experience emotions – only by eating. And it is only unpleasant and unwanted emotions such as sadness, anger or anxiety that are controlled by food. Not necessarily. We eat and we celebrate when we’re happy. Food is used as a regulator of emotions and as an amplifier of them,” says psychologist Rosita Kanapekite, co-author of the book “Sutamdita Mesca”.

Associated with the festival

A person eats throughout his life because it is necessary, but according to psychologists the goals of eating can be different. Some want to provide the body with nutrients, for others it is important that food brings happiness. Then the food itself becomes important, but also its presentation, aesthetics, smell, colors and so on. There are also eaters who say they have helped, or they have paid for the food.

Consumers often choose a particular food product because of the perceived sensations it evokes, which they recall from past experiences eating it, and which may be hinted at by the color of the food or drink. According to Marias Gudauskas, manager of Eks-Granini Lietuva, the country’s largest producer of juices, nectars and fruit drinks, because colors affect emotions, they play a role in causing certain reactions to a product, influencing its choice.

“For example, Elmenhorster orange juice, which has been very popular in Lithuania for several years – last year’s population survey of the country revealed Every second (56%) prefers orange juice. It is customary to drink them in the morning, during breakfast, and not only because orange juice contains useful nutrients, but also because citrus fruits are associated with summer, good mood, and their smell is energizing. In addition, yellow is considered to inspire optimism and good mood, while orange is considered energetic. People expect a glass of juice to have the same effect, so they choose to start the day with it,” comments M. Gudauskas.

Fruits, berries, vegetables have color, which also determines the color of the juice made from them. Light food colors are often associated with sweetness, so the eye-catching bright colors of juice are probably one of the reasons why every third consumer in Lithuania consumes juice as a dessert.

“The color of the fruit juice varies from yellow to orange, green, light red, depending on what the juice is made from. Intense colors are associated with the festival, so a third of the population consumes the juice as a dessert – to pamper themselves and improve their mood”, notes M. Gudauskas.

The color of the dishes has an impact

The psychologist assures that the color of the dishes they eat, as well as their shape and size, are no less important than the color of food products or dishes. Studies have revealed that when eating from a white plate, you eat less and from a turquoise one you eat more. However, colors and their influence are a very personal matter, so people can observe for themselves how their appetite or desire for food is determined by different shapes of dishes, their color or the color of food.

Speaking about the influence of colors on the taste of food, R. Kanapeckaitė says that this factor can be culturally determined.

“For example, if we serve cold borscht to guests from faraway countries, we can well observe how the color of food affects people. For us, pink mullet is common, but foreigners, such a dish is unusual, often say that the color of mullet is not appetizing”, shares R. Kanapeckaitė. .

Diet becomes a habit

According to R. Kanapeckaitė, people often see food as entertainment and create rituals related to it. Then a particular favorite food product or dish becomes a treat that improves emotional well-being, something that feels good. For example, waking up in a bad mood has been known to improve after drinking orange juice or eating a cinnamon bun. A person has created an expectation that a certain food product will improve the day. It is a learned behavior, in such cases, food is a stimulus for a certain response of the body.

“Let me present an example of the influence of food established by scientific research. For many, watching a movie in a theater is inextricably linked with eating popcorn. It was discussed how important the quality of popcorn is while watching a movie, whether it is questioned because it is an integral part of the movie. Moviegoers were given a week’s worth of popcorn. Viewers did not notice the difference and complained about the quality. It was not given,” said R. Kanapekeit says.

Food related practices are a positive thing as long as they do not endanger human health. The interlocutor advises only to pay attention to what kind of food we eat when we are overwhelmed by emotions. Research has shown that angry people are more likely to choose hard foods that require more chewing, and that the sensation of chewing gives them a sense of being in control. Meanwhile, when we’re sad, we often reach for soothing foods that take us back to childhood — semolina or ice cream.

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