Trying to get your date to fall in love with you? Science shows that food is the key to our unlocking our emotions … but you've got to choose the right ingredients to make the object of your affections' heart go pitter-patter.
Sure, planning the evening well is important, too—but you might not realize how crucial the food you order at that romantic candlelit dinner is to your evening. Whether you're hoping to hear those three little words or get lucky at the end of the night, here's how to plan your menu for the perfect date night.
If you want this date to end with “ILY”
So you met someone, you did your due diligence (ahem, Facebook stalking), and you really want your first date to go well. The trick to getting that special someone to say, “I love you” first? Hack their dopamine levels.
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that affects your brain’s pleasure center. The more dopamine in your brain, the better you’re going to feel. In fact, those loving feelings hit your dopamine receptors hard, so if you’re trying to woo your date by desert you’ll need to stimulate this natural chemical as much as you can. The amino acid tyrosine is like dopamine’s best friend. Present in foods like bananas, strawberries, sesame seeds, and animal protein, it boosts and supports higher dopamine levels in your body. The ultimate meal to make your date fall head over heels in dopamine-induced love with you? Chicken tahini with a side of fresh strawberries.
When it’s time to rekindle that flame
You’ve been with your significant other for a while, and you feel super comfortable around each other. You’ve seen them at their best, at their worst, and even kissed them with morning breath. But the romance in your relationship? It’s dwindled. Reignite your passion and libido by balancing your hormones. Sure, it doesn’t sound sexy, but since your hormones control your sex drive, they play a key role in romance.
Omega-3 and -6 increase your hormone receptor’s capabilities and subsequently equalize your adrenal levels, so fill your plate with omega-friendly foods like salmon, sardines, walnuts, pecans, and olives to rev up your libido. Zinc—that cold busting supplement—is another compound you shouldn’t underestimate when it comes to the release of sex hormones. Oysters, the most notorious sex boosting food, are chock full of zinc, as are chickpeas, spinach, cashews, and chocolate.
If you want to keep things exciting
Throw your typical date night plans out the window, do something crazy, and get your heart pumping. Pre-game your date with energy boosting maca powder. This root not only makes you feel more vibrant and happier, but also increases longevity. Next, get your blood flowing with spicy foods. Seriously, throw some cayenne pepper or even curry powder into the mix to get your heart racing and adrenaline pumping.
Take it up a notch by cooking together, suggests love and dating coach Daniella Rosales-Friedman. "Build intimacy and reconnect by cooking together. Even if you aren't a chef, even if it gets a little messy, it will make you feel emotionally connected and on the same page", says Daniella. A positive side effect of using fiery hot ingredients: They can also make your after-date plans pretty entertaining. So pick the extra spicy tacos for an extra interesting evening.
When you’re ready to start a family
You’ve traversed the first date, the first anniversary, and a few bumps in the road, and you’re ready to take the next step and start a family together. Get your groove on by eating some foods that will increase your cholesterol, but just a tad. Cholesterol is actually important for estrogen and testosterone, which are key for fertility and sexual health. Egg yolks, shellfish, and cold water fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines are perfect for delivering the healthy fats you need to support fertility.
When you just wanna cuddle and whisper sweet nothings
Ain’t nothing wrong with a little bump and grind, but sometimes you just wanna hang out and watch Netflix. In fact, it could be the best thing you can do for your relationship.
"Typically, women like to come home and talk through their day, and men prefer to come home and decompress and relax. The best thing you can do is join your significant other on the couch and be there with them, even if you're not talking", she notes. Relax and chill out together with foods high in magnesium like chocolate and almonds. And pop the cork on the red wine. Not only is it full of antioxidants, but red wine is linked to reducing inflammation and will help your whole body relax. Chocolate and wine? Sounds like a very relaxing and romantic night! "Before you know it, you'll be cuddling up to each other and feeling those loving vibes."
It doesn’t matter if your love lasts a lifetime, or if it’s doomed to inspire the next Taylor Swift breakup ballad—you should enjoy every second (and meal) with your significant other.
Illustration by Karley Koenig