Food Choices: How Your Brain Uses Color to Decide What to Eat

Written by - Reviewed by Consumer Health Digest Team

Published: May 13, 2018 | Last Updated: Aug 2, 2019

Food Choices by Brain

Can Food Color influence our Food Choices?

We tend to use our natural instincts to choose foods that appeal to us; the term “we eat with our eyes” is actually extremely accurate. People choose foods by using vision as the main sense, this explains the term “food porn,” with social media becoming a platform for chefs, nutrition coaches, cookbooks, and diet companies. The amount of staged meal pictures and recipes on social media is exponentially growing.

Interestingly enough research suggests that we rely on colors to figure out the quality and even nutrient content (protein, calories, etc.) of foods. Some theories suggest that we are wired this way so we could differentiate actual food verse non- food forest plants and leaves in the primal hunting and gathering stages. There are very few studies that focus on the color of food guiding our diets, but the research that is available uses trichromacy, a feature of the vision system as the reason why humans tend to eat with vision being the primary sense.

Trichromacy is the manner in which our photoreceptor cells in our eyes process to enable color vision. It goes on further to suggest that our eyes are sensitive to red, green and blue showing that we see several colors and other animals only use two colors to evaluate food. Other animals typically use smell as their first sense of evaluating foods.

food color influence

Behavioral experiments show that humans prefer foods with more of a reddish tint. The primal way of thinking indicated that reddish foods generally had a higher protein and energy content. Researchers have hypothesized that the human arousal rate and preference is higher with red foods then green foods. Red foods tend to be higher in calories, where green foods tend to be lower, suggesting that red foods will be more satisfying.

RED: Most if not all fast food advertising and marketing signs have red as the base color paired with yellow. Red stimulates appetite and blood flow and yellow increases focus and concentration. Some weight loss hypnosis experts will hypnotize people and use a negative association with the color red to help clients lose weight. Simply breaking the alluring draw of the red color association with food.

Appetite suppressant Food

BLUE: Weight loss experts go even further to say that blue is actually an appetite suppressant. They suggest that you eat your food off of blue plates, paint your kitchen a soothing blue color and even place a blue light in your fridge or pantry.

ORANGE: is used to promote energy, specifically physical energy for working out or being outdoors. The popular Orange Theory Fitness studio was smart- everything orange promotes intense energy. If you need energy consider carrying an orange travel mug, purse or backpack.

GREEN: promotes hormone balance, stable environment and subtle behaviors. Green is also a great color to paint a kitchen and/or dining room to promote a balanced nutrition environment.

PURPLE: Promotes quality sleep and relaxation. Purple bedding and/or purple bedroom accents are a great idea. Lack of sleep can cause major metabolic issues resulting in insulin fluctuations, rise in inflammatory cortisol, and appetite hormones leptin and ghrelin are off balance, resulting in increased appetite specifically for carbohydrates and sugar and thus weight gain.

Healthy Lifestyle Strategies using color

Vitamins Benefit
Simply be aware of the subliminal messaging in marketing, being knowledgeable is powerful and can allow you to control your instincts better.

Supplement with:

  • High quality multi-vitamin
  • All-natural gel capsules are absorbed better than tablets or liquid formulations.
  • AM/PM formulation provides energy-supporting nutrients in the morning and recovery-supporting nutrients at night, along with spreading out each day’s dose so nutrients are absorbed more effectively.

Omega 3 fish oil: 1000-2000mg

  • Shown to help in brain health/development, decrease symptoms of depression, support weight management & metabolism, decrease inflammation, & important in heart health.
  • Because we are getting too much Omega-6 from current food supply/diet and not enough Omega-3, supplementing w/ Omega-3 has become absolutely necessary.

Probioitc (1-2 before breakfast, and if you are having digestive issues before lunch and dinner)

  • Probiotics, or live bacteria, are helpful in supporting healthy bacteria balance in the gut.
  • Active ingredients may be beneficial for individuals who have a history of taking antibiotics, stress, or digestive dysfunction- all of which imbalance gut flora
  • Multi-probiotics capsules should contain 4 billion active cultures from 7 different strains and prebiotics that support the immunity and balance in the gut lining

Hydroxide rich water

  • Reduces acid (H+ions) build up and muscle soreness.
  • Reduces inflammation resulting in decreased risk for chronic diseases.

All of these supplements are anti-inflammatory and will prevent deficiencies. When the body is deficient and in a state of inflammation, we are more likely to “give in” to our instincts and may find ourselves in the drive through under the red fast food light up signs. Inflammation can stimulate the opiate receptors, leading to poor insulin regulation and impulsive behaviors like binge eating.

Food Color Advantage

Use color to your advantage, consider having a red food in most meals and snacks. Strawberries, red bell peppers, tomatoes, goji berries, cherries, cranberries, and even a lean cut of red meat cooked to a safe “pinkish red” on the inside can provide quality protein and iron.

  • Chop Red bell peppers into salads, or top onto homemade pizza, dip with hummus, or as stuffed peppers.
  • Add strawberries to salad, yogurt, or shakes.
  • Add tomatoes to salad, sandwiches, or homemade pizza topping
  • Add goji berries to cereal or yogurt.
  • Carry fresh cherries as a snack, or add them to smoothies.
  • Add dried cranberries to your favorite trail mix, or use fresh cranberries in a marinade for lean pork or chicken.
  • Consider eating lean all-natural red meat 1-2 times per week to boost iron, and protein needs.

Recipe – has several red nutrient dense foods.

Southwestern Quinoa Stuffed Red Bell Peppers


  • Prep time: 5
  • Cook time ‘ 25 minutes
  • Number of servings ‘ 4
  • Serving size ‘ 1 pepper
  • Difficulty – easy


  • 4 medium red bell peppers
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 c corn
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • A? c diced onions
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 lb. lean ground beef
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Cut off tops of peppers and clean out the inside.
  • Boil peppers in water on stovetop for 2-3 minutes.
  • Set aside.
  • Cook 1-cup quinoa according to directions.
  • Brown ground beef.
  • In a bowl mix ground beef, corn, black beans, cheese, onion, cooked quinoa, tomato sauce and pepper.
  • Fill peppers and top with shredded cheese if desired. Cover with foil.
  • Cook at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through


Based on the intricate knowledge of our complex visual system, color association can have a powerful impact on our behaviors, including eating disorders, advertising, and marketing. Using the power of colors can be a successful option in encouraging people to eat a healthy diet while avoiding foods that are not healthy.

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