How Food Makes Women Romantic
At some point you’ve probably heard the saying,
“The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”
While I do enjoy a good meal, I can’t comment on how scientifically sound that advice is. I’ve never done the research.
It turns out, though, that this sage advice might also be true for women. Research from Drexel Univeristy has found that women may be more likely to respond to romantic cues when they’re running on a full stomach.
The new study was published in the journal Appetite and it explores how brain regions in women react to certain types of rewards. Particularly, the researchers are interested in how the brain reacts when they are either full or hungry.
The scientists compared how activity in the brain in women who had a history of dieting and those who didn’t.
Alicia Ely – an author on the study – explains the general findings by saying the following:
“We found that young women both with and without a history of dieting had greater brain activation in response to romantic pictures in reward-related neural regions after having eaten than when hungry.”
This is a bit of a surprise from both a common sense perspective, and also from a scientific one. Generally you would think that having hunger would make you more sensitive to certain cues in the environment. Previous research on the matter has found this to be true things like money, drugs, and food.
But this study has found evidence that some rewards may be more tantalizing after the hunger has been satisfied.
Ely elaborates on the results:
“In this case, they were more responsive when fed. This data suggests that eating may prime or sensitize young women to rewards beyond food. It also supports a shared neurocircuitry for food and sex.”
As it turns out, going on a date to a fancy restaurant may work out in the guy’s favor. But the result was a bit unexpected as the scientists weren’t looking for it.
The study grew from previous work that the researchers had been performing on how the brains of women dieters and non-dieters react to certain reward stimuli.
Their original work was aimed at looking at different responses in the brains of dieters and non-dieters. Participants were college-age women of normal weight.
That work – published in the journal Obesity – found that a history of dieting was linked to greater brain activity with rewards. This was in comparison to women who had never dieted but were presented with the same rewards.
When women were fed and not hungry, the dieters had a greater reaction to savory foods. Meaning that there’s an association between dieting and craving richer food.
The authors of the study believe this may explain why previous studies – done over long periods of time – have found that dieters are more at risk for obesity.
Digesting the Data
To recap, women who had a history of dieting had more activity in the brain reward center than the group of non-dieters. However, the study showed that both groups had a larger response to romantic cues after being fed. It’s just that dieters have a greater response.
This is curious news for women. Not only for the romantic tendency, but also for the increases in brain activity for rewards in women dieters.
It certainly brings new meaning to the words, “Eat. Pray. Love.”