Making the healthy snacking choice might be as simple as flicking a switch: you’re more likely to choose healthy foods in a brightly lit room than in a dim one, a new study in the Journal of Marketing Research suggests.
People who ordered in bright rooms were 24 per cent more likely to choose nutritious foods – like salads, vegetables and grilled fish – than those who ordered in darker establishments.
Bright lighting may nudge you towards healthier foods by keeping your brain alert, says lead study author Dr Dipayan Biswas, a marketing professor at the University of South Florida.
That’s because light suppresses your brain’s production of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin, keeping you awake and attentive.
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And that makes you more likely to make mindful decisions – for example, to choose a side of broccoli over fries – rather than give in to the temptation of indulgences, Biswas says.
Of course, you can’t change the lighting in a restaurant, but you can put these findings to work in your own kitchen.
When you’re on the hunt for a snack, make sure the lights in your kitchen are working in your favour: flip your dimmer switch to the brightest setting and keep your blinds open to let sunlight in.
If you do find yourself in a dimly lit restaurant, start your meal with a cup of tea or coffee.
The researchers say that caffeine may have an effect similar to bright lighting, keeping your brain alert to help you make smarter eating choices.
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