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#ScienceSpeaks Does Food Have Any Effect On Female Desire?

It is said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but if a recent study is to be believed, the proverb may hold true for women as well. It seems that a new study has found that women may be more responsive to romance when they’re well-fed and not hangry – a combination of being hungry and angry at the same time.

The study was done at the University of California, San Diego, by Alice Ely, a postdoctoral fellow. Ely sought to examine if there was any correlation between a full stomach and its subsequent effect on desire. In previous research, Ely and her team had examined responses of women’s brains to the images of fatty foods both before and after they had eaten, finding that depending on their prior history with diets or no diets – at all, affected their brains’ activation patterns differently.

woman eating

Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

Going a step further in this study, Ely and her team gave women another stimulus associated with reward – romance – to see if their stomach contents would affect their response. She says, “We found that it did.”

Ely and her team recruited 20 young women of average weight, half of whom had dieted at least twice in their life in an effort to lose weight, and the other half never having dieted at all. All of the women were asked to go without food for eight hours, and then to come to the lab hungry. They were then asked to undergo an fMRI scan, where they were presented with romantic pictures like a couple holding hands, along with neutral images like a bowling ball. The researchers observed that there were similar levels of activation between the two groups of women. Then, they were asked to consume 500 calories’ worth of a meal replacement drink, following which they were popped into the fMRI scanner again, where they were shown the same pictures, but on a full stomach.

Suggested read: Science reveals how your body responds to a breakup

And this time, ‘they were more responsive to romantic cues,’ says Ely, who concluded that this might happen because women were no longer ‘hangry,’ an unpleasant combination of being both hungry and angry.

“Instead of being anxious and annoyed and irritable when you’re hungry… once we’re sated, then we can get on to better things.”

couple in love (16)

Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

Traci Mann, a Psychology professor from the University of Minnesota and a dieting researcher who wasn’t connected with the study, told Time that Ely’s hypothesis makes a lot of sense. She says, when you’re fasting, you’re ‘entirely preoccupied and focused with thoughts of food. It seems to me it would be hard for them to be drawn away from thinking about food to thinking about other things.’

Another surprising conclusion drawn from the study was that, post-meal brain activity in response to romantic cues was especially strong in women who had dieted in the past than who had no dieting history. Drawn from previous research, the theory here is that women with a past dieting history have stronger brain activity to rewards like food, even if they’re already full. Ely says, “But what we’re seeing is that’s kind of true for stuff beyond just food.”

Ely further explains,

“There’s some evidence that people who are more impulsive or more reward-sensitive tend to eat more in certain situations, but there haven’t been too many imaging studies looking at this population and looking across different kinds of stimuli.”

Ely also cautions that although this study did indeed yield some interesting results, much more research is needed to dray any concrete conclusions.

“It’s all very speculative, but it’s still very interesting and a sort of unexpected finding,” she says.

Whatever the case may be, ladies, you can now cite this research as scientific proof as to why a woman needs to be taken out to dinner and pampered with food and wine. 😉

Featured image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

Article Name
Science Explains Why Well-fed Women More Likely To Focus On Romance
Is there a link between a woman's stomach and romance? According to this study, well-fed women are more likely to focus on romance. Take a look.
Chaitra Ramalingegowda

Chaitra Ramalingegowda

I fell in love with storytelling long before I knew what it was. Love well written stories, writing with passion, baking lip-smacking-finger-licking chocolate cakes, engaging movies, and home-cooked food. A true work-in-progress and a believer in the idiom 'all those who wander are not lost'. Twitter: @ChaitraRlg