By Mike Pomranz
Updated March 12, 2015
Credit: © LatinStock Collection / Alamy

Everyone knows that you aren’t supposed to go grocery shopping when you’re hungry, but it turns out you shouldn’t go any kind of shopping at all. New research shows that hunger doesn’t just make us want to eat, it makes us want to take nonfood objects as well.

For the study, researchers used two scenarios: First they surveyed shoppers leaving a department store. The team asked the shoppers when they last ate and then looked at their receipts. The results showed hungry shoppers spent almost 60 percent more than those who had eaten.

But they went a step further to try to prove that hungry people will really take anything they can get their hands on. They divided undergraduates at the University of Michigan into two groups—one was not allowed to eat for four hours, the other got to eat as much cake as they wanted (this is why you sign up for research studies when you're in college). Then the researchers showed their subjects what are, perhaps, the most boring items known to man—Staples binder clips. Subjects were allowed to take as many binder clips as they wanted. We can’t imagine anyone actually wanting to take binder clips, but the group that hadn’t eaten took 70 percent more binder clips than the caked-up group.

The moral: If you don’t want to leave the mall with a bag full of stuff you don’t need, make sure to hit the food court first.