Heading to the grocery store for your weekly food run is never a good idea when youâ€™re hungry (or after smoking weed). Sure enough, a bunch of processed crap will inevitably end up in your basket while your belly rumbles and your brain searches for fuel.
But why that phenomenon happens was not well-understood by food scientists, until a new study from Johns Hopkins University tackled the topic. As it turns out, you donâ€™t even have to be in the grocery store for the effect to take hold.
Photos of junk food like candy, ice cream, and pizza can distract you when hungry, even if youâ€™re working intently on another task, according to the study, which was published in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. Also interesting: After you taste the junk food, your cravings re-orient closer to healthy food territory, the investigation also found.
For the study, scientists put people through difficult computer tests while imagesâ€”high-fat/high-calorie foods, healthy foods, or just everyday objectsâ€”flashed quickly on the side of the screen. Researchers found that the pictures of the junk food made the participants almost twice as distracted from completing their tasks, compared to healthy food or common objects. In a follow-up experiment, a new batch of people gnawed on two small candy bars before the test. Surprise: Junk food wasnâ€™t quite as distracting.
â€śWhat your grandmother might have told you about not going to the grocery store hungry seems to be true,â€ť said lead study author Corbin A. Cunningham, Ph.D., distinguished science of learning fellow in the department of psychological and brain sciences. â€śYou would probably make choices that you shouldnâ€™t or ordinarily wouldnâ€™t.â€ť
In the meantime, hereâ€™s a guide to the best (and worst) Halloween candiesâ€”because if youâ€™re gonna snack on sugary crap, you might as well try to do it right.