Have a look in your wardrobe. When you grab a T-shirt or jumper, what colour do you tend to choose? Is it a bright, cherry-red, or vermilion? Or do you choose a calming blue, a slate grey or maybe a vampy purple?

Bear with me for a moment … Deanna Minich, Ph.D., IFMCP, a functional nutritionist who studies plant-based pigments says that the colours you are drawn to (and conversely the ones you consistently steer clear of), can clue you in on some aspects of your wellbeing.

For example, if you glance over at a sunny yellow separate and think, Yuck, why did I even buy that? there may be a perfectly good reason for your sudden aversion.

According to Minich, you’re probably stressed.

The Connection Between The Colour Yellow And Your Mood

You probably already know that a sunny yellow hue is generally associated with happiness and joy. But science backs it up, too: “There was a study in Manchester, England, some years ago in which they asked people what their favorite colours were, and then they assessed their mood state,” Minich recounts (it’s called the Manchester Colour Wheel Study, in case you’re curious). “And what they found was that yellow, the typical, bright, happy-faced yellow, was actually connected with happiness. People that chose yellow tended to be less depressed or anxious, and they tended to have a healthy mood.”

But here’s the thing about a bright, sunny colour: Venture too close to the sun, and you’ll get scorched. Meaning, if you feel the urge to avoid the colour altogether, you might have what Minich calls “excessive yellow,” which she says, can manifest as stress and anxiety. “Whenever people shy away from yellow, I’m thinking, ‘Ah, it’s been too bright.'” You’re quite literally burnt out.

On the nutrition side of things, the link between “excessive yellow” and stress makes sense, too: “[Many people are] eating a lot of yellow foods these days,” Minich explains—not the whole, nutrient-rich variety (like say squash, lemon and ginger), but highly processed, corn-based foods. These refined yellow foods can ramp up your blood sugar, which studies have shown, is associated with the stress hormone cortisol.

Of course, this colour association is certainly not the be-all and end-all. Maybe a mustard hue just clashes with your undertones, and that’s totally fine! But if you have a sudden aversion to yellow or you simply prefer other colours at the moment, Minich says it’s worthwhile checking your stress levels.

Better yet she notes, try filling your plate with cooling, blue-purple foods (like blueberries, Concord grapes, or purple potatoes). In fact, the blue-purple pigments, called proanthocyanidins, are superb for balancing mood: One study found that a diet full of this type of polyphenol was associated with a 39% lower risk of depression.

The Takeaway

There’s still much to learn about the science of colour and how it affects your health. But according to Minich, there’s a research-backed reason yellow is associated with bright, bubbly happiness—and if you shy away from the hue, there’s a possibility you might be a bit stressed.