Draw foods you love and elevate your mood

Paula Duffy's picture

Just drawing high calorie or sugar-filled food, even if it comes from fruit elevates moods of overweight individuals. A new study is a fascinating look at our love affair with food

Craving sweet food is one thing, but drawing it is another. Yet, people who recreated sugary treats on a canvas got what the study called "enhanced emotions."

Recently published on the site Scientific Research Open Access, the study results found "...positive emotional change when drawing pictures of foods that are high fat or taste sweet compared to bitter-tasting foods."

The study subjects were measured using the body mass index (BMI) criteria and were considered overweight, not obese. All of the subjects were in their 20's and were recruited from a university in New York.

They were broken up into four groups that painted the following foods:

1) High fat-high sugar (HFHS; stimulus food: cupcakes)
2) High fat-low sugar (HFLS; stimulus food: pizza)
3) Low fat-high sugar (LFHS; stimulus food: strawberries)
4) Low fat-low sugar (LFLS; stimulus food: peppers)

Most of us might identify the cupcakes and pizza as food we might get a smile from, especially if the renderings were close enough to the real things to make us start to crave it.

But, the study indicates that even strawberries if colorfully drawn elicit a mood enhancement.

The students were told to use three colors and only three colors --- red, green and black, but they were required to use each of them in their renderings. The three colors had to correctly capture the true colors of the food they were charged with drawing.

The odd man out, so to speak, were the peppers.

The bottom line for the researchers is that independent of the subjects' BMI, their daily caloric intake or their state of hunger while drawing, "...pictures of high fat foods (cupcakes, pizzas) and a food that tastes sweet (strawberries) results in greater increases in mood compared to drawing a bitter-tasting food (peppers).

As a lifetime member of Weight Watchers I know that meeting leaders speak quite often about how we "romance" food. When we think about what we want to eat, rarely do we dream of raw veggies or fruit.

While that might be true, once asked to draw a sweet fruit like strawberries something positive clicked. Does the mood elevation last long? It was not noted in the study.

Image: Flickr via Google Images