Could hunger be responsible for your online shopping habit?

When you're trying to lose weight, or maintain a healthy weight, you'll often hear the advice, "Don't do your weekly shop when you're hungry," and that makes perfect sense! Shopping for food on an empty stomach means you're more likely to buy junk food that's high in fat, salt and sugar. But according to a new study, there could be more to this advice than meets the eye. In fact, hunger could make you more likely to give in to temptation and buy anything - could that explain why your wardrobe is bursting with new clothes?

New research

According to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (1), when you're trying to stick to a healthy eating plan and ignoring your junk food cravings, your body can actually devise other ways of satisfying your hunger. One of those ways is indulging in retail therapy - buying non-food items. So your cravings for Chinese takeaway could be manifesting in a late-night Amazon shopping binge, affecting your finances!

Testing the theory

In order to test this theory, scientists came up with three different scenarios to allow them to study the relationship between hunger and purchasing behaviours. In the first scenario, participants were asked to rate and review various binder clips and then asked to fill out a survey which monitored their reaction to the clips, as well as how hungry they were. They were told that they could take home and keep as many binder clips as they liked. The results revealed that the hungriest people took the most clips.

In the second test, participants were asked to fast for at least 4 hours before the research session. Upon arrival, half of the group were immediately fed cake and then asked to discuss their preference for binder clips. The other half were asked to take part in a binder clip discussion before getting any cake. Again, participants were told they could take as many clips as they liked, and again those who were hungry took more clips.

The final test saw researchers hand out surveys as shoppers exited stores at a local shopping centre, checking their receipts to see what they had bought. Those who indicated on the survey that they were hungry had bought more non-food items than those who were not hungry.

The results

The study authors wrote, "Hunger is assumed to motivate eating, which satisfies the caloric needs underlying the motivation. However, hunger's influence extends beyond food consumption to the acquisition of non-food items that cannot satisfy the underlying need."

So it seems that shoppers were subconsciously buying more stuff even though this would never satisfy their hunger! This research could hold significance for anyone on a diet, as you could find yourself trading binge eating for binge shopping and a credit card habit!

How to stop yourself shopping

So, how do you counteract this subconscious urge to shop? The authors of the study recommended you stop before buying something and ask yourself, "Do I really want this or am I just hungry?" If the answer is that you're hungry, then get out of the store or step away from your PC and have a healthy, protein-packed snack to alleviate cravings; adding some fibre can also help you to feel fuller for longer. Then you can re-evaluate whether you actually need another pair of boots or a winter jumper, before you make that purchase!

READ THIS NEXT: What your cravings really mean

Works cited:

Author By Paula Beaton
Date On 12th Nov 2015 at 15:40

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