Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Eating With Your Ears?

Many are aware of the sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami flavor sensations that occur in the mouth, but new research from Brigham Young (BYU) and Colorado State University (CSU) has shed light onto the forgotten flavor sensation: sound. If you think the sound of food isn’t important, then think again: 27 % of food and nutrition experts’ surveys reported the sound food makes as being “essential,” or “important.” I can’t imagine what Pop Rocks would taste like without the sound they make. Or perhaps celery would taste even worse without the crunch! The crunch factor, as I like to think of it, makes a difference in the amount of food eaten. Studies by BYU and CSU found that participants with headphones emitting loud music ate a greater amount of food: 4 pretzels as opposed to 2.75 pretzels in the “quiet” group. This suggests that the sound food makes as we eat it makes a difference in the amount we eat. This goes along with other research that suggests that watching television during a mealtime will increase consumption. Maybe the muffling effect of the TV is what cues someone to eat more.

            What may be beneficial for someone to do at mealtime is to listen to the sound that food makes, and, more importantly, take your time eating. Doing so will give you the title of a “Mindful Eater,” but may also cue you to eat less.

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