Another study, published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, connects the behavior of hungry individuals with 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 purchase 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.”
The idea that you shouldn’t shop 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.