DON’T Do This when shopping at the Grocery Store

Posted in Nutrition

Reprinted with permission from

When you are exceptionally hungry you usually want to eat more—translating the desire for more may translate into purchasing either more food than you need or different types of food. Many researchers have considered that same question.

Recent studies have investigated grocery shopping mindset, hunger levels and the psychology of food purchasing. Let’s take a look at what scientists think about grocery shopping while hungry.

Hungry Shoppers Buy More Calories

One 2013 research study determined that people who were hungry looked to eat calorie dense foods if given a choice. The study, conducted by Amy Yaroch and Courtney Pinard, conducted the study, which found that individuals in an 18-hour fasting group consumed almost 47% more calories than individuals in a non-fasting group. Additionally, people in the fasting group were more likely to reach for starches rather than vegetables.

Another study, published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, connects the behavior of hungry individuals with shopping in the grocery store. In the study, hungry shoppers did not necessarily buy more food, they simply purchased foods with a higher calorie content. The principle is similar to the research of Yaroch and Pinard. As people get hungry, they avoid low calorie foods and shopping foods high in starches and carbohydrates.


Not So Fast! It Might Depend on Body Composition

While medical researchers are quick to point out that people often reach for more calorie-rich foods when hungry, psychologists take a different approach. A study in Psychology & Behavior determined that body composition plays a big role in how hungry people decide what to eat and what to buy at the store.

The study discusses the idea of hungry grocery shopping, using 198 test subjects and a questionnaire to determine purchase behavior. In the end, the study showed little consistency for overall self-reported hunger and shopping result. What was interesting is the way people of different body weights shopped while hungry.

According to the study, “there were significant interactions of weight status and measures of food deprivation upon measures of food purchasing.” Researchers found a significant correlation between hunger and food purchase quantity in normal weight people. Normal-weight individuals purchased more food when they shopped hungry. Interestingly, obese people purchased less food. Researchers said that “the number and cost of food items fell markedly with extended food deprivation among overweight subjects.”

Bottom Line…

The idea that you shouldn’t go shopping while hungry holds some value. There definitely needs to be more research in this area. Many researchers agree that hungry people or people who are fasting make different food buying and eating decisions. Body composition might play an important role in how food buying decisions are made as well.

The best overall idea might be to monitor your own personal food buying trends and match them with your perceived hunger. If anything, recent research is indicating that everyone is different and people have different psychological reactions to fasting and hunger.

Tell us about your experiences when going shopping for food in the comments below. Do you see any difference when shopping hungry or after you had something to eat?

Posted in Nutrition