Think not eating on a date—or starving yourself before the date—will make you feel more comfortable? Think again, girl: According to a new pilot study published online in the journal Appetite, researchers found that women’s brains respond more to romance on a full stomach than an empty one.
The study, conducted by researchers from Drexel and University of Pennsylvania, looked at 20 women of normal weight, half of which had tried to lose weight at least twice in the past, and the other half hadn’t ever dieted. After fasting for eight hours, the women were hooked up to a fMRI scanner and shown images — some neutral like a bowling ball, and others clearly depicting romance like a couple holding hands.
After drinking a 500-calorie meal replacement shake, the women were hooked up to the machine again and shown the same images, and—spoiler alert—they were way more responsive to the lovey pictures.
Why? Well, for one, foods makes us content, pure and simple “Instead of being anxious and annoyed and irritable when you’re hungry…once we’re sated, then we can get on to better things,” said the study’s author Alice Ely.
It makes total sense. Seriously—we can all agree that when we’re hungry, it’s hard to focus on anything else, even that cute guy sitting across the table.
The results shouldn’t be taken as gospel—it’s only a pilot study using a small group of women of the same age, but Ely admits it’s a compelling start when it comes to looking at the relationship between food and love “It’s all very speculative, but it’s still very interesting and a sort of unexpected finding,” she says,
Bottom line: If you’re torn between the cheeseburger and the salad on your next date, go with the burger—it can’t hurt.
This isn’t the first time studies have examined the effect eating has on love: In January, research out of Perdue University found that your date might be more attracted to you—and vise versa—after tasting something sweet thanks to a potential link between dessert flavors and romance. Of course, housing a cheesecake doesn’t mean a date from hell will suddenly transform into Mr. Right, but—like ordering that burger—it also can’t hurt.