Want to win a woman's heart? Fill her belly with food

Women are more likely to pick up on romantic cues when they feel sated, a new study says. It probably doesn't hurt if you also pick up the check.

Danny Gallagher
CNET freelancer Danny Gallagher has contributed to Cracked.com, Mental Floss, Maxim, Break.com, Mandatory, Jackbox Games, Geeks Who Drink and many, many other publications in his never-ending quest to bring the world's productivity to a screeching halt. He lives and works in Dallas. Email Danny.
Danny Gallagher
3 min read

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Trying to win over the woman of your dreams? You might want to serve more than celery sticks. Getty Images/Cultura Exclusive

Are you, like me, clueless about where to take a woman on a date? Keep it simple and take her out to a nice big meal. A new study suggests she's more responsive to those romantic signals you're sending when she's full.

The study will appear in the December edition of the journal Appetite and has already appeared in the online version of the publication. No offense to the people behind this publication, but "Stuffed" would have been a much cooler title.

The study was authored by Alice Ely, a postdoctoral research fellow at UC San Diego School of Medicine's Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research, while she was pursuing her doctoral degree at Drexel University in Philadelphia. It grew out of another study published by Ely last year in the journal Obesity.

The earlier study sought to understand how the female brain changes in response to certain food cues. The study looked at women with a history of dieting, as well as women who hadn't dieted, and found that the women with a history of dieting "showed elevated reward circuitry" under a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine when they felt full, according to the 2014 study's abstract.

Ely and her colleagues at UC San Diego expanded on the previous experiment to see the female brain's response to romantic cues -- in this case delivered via photos of couples holding hands and the like -- while the women were in both a "fasted and fed state."

According to that second study, the brains of women both who had a history of dieting and those who never had showed the same responses to rewards when they had been fed. The brain scans also revealed that women who had eaten before being exposed to certain romantic cues saw a greater activation of the areas of the brain that responded to "perception and goal-directed behavior." That's a fancier way of saying that women are more likely to realize a date wants to have "muchas smooches" with her.

While any woman would tell you it takes a hell of a lot more than a good meal to sweep her off her feet, the study is an interesting look at how food and romance might intersect in our brains. Ely also said the results contradict several previous studies that indicate that people typically show more sensitivity to rewarding stimuli such as money and drugs when hungry.

"In this case, they were more responsive when fed," Ely said in a statement from UC San Diego. "This data suggests that eating may prime or sensitize young women to rewards beyond food. It also supports a shared neurocircuitry for food and sex."

While you'll of course want to have something to drink while you're stuffing yourselves during dinner, you might want to limit the number of adult beverages you have with your meal. A study published last May in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism found that people who consumed "a low of dose of alcohol (equivalent to 250 milliliters or wine at 14 percent alcohol by volume for a 70 kilogram, or 154-pound, individual)" were rated as more attractive in photographs than those who were sober or those who had consumed higher doses of alcohol.

Tell us in the comments, women. Does feeling full on a date actually makes you more receptive to romance?