Why You Eat What You Eat

I read the book, ‘Why You Eat What You Eat. The Science Behind Our Relationship with Food’ by Rachel Herz, PhD and am convinced that food and eating are very complex and interesting. Here are my top 10 takeaways from the book:

1. Taste is significantly impacted by smell. Try this: Plug your nose and place a gum drop or jelly bean in your mouth and chew about 5-10 seconds, then unplug your nose and note the flavor. Everyone (ok, 6) I have seen do it, has been surprised. I was amazed to realize how much difference smell makes to taste.


2. Loud noise while eating diminishes taste. This may be why airplane food tastes so bad. It could explain why eating in a loud restaurant may be less satisfying.

3. If you eat a food a certain particular (and even peculiar) way each time you eat it, such as eating the individual strings of mozzarella cheese stick one by one, you enjoy it more and are more satisfied and may tend to eat less later.

4. If you see food, you are quite likely to eat it. So she says if you do not want to eat something, get it out of sight.

5. How you feel emotionally when you eat, impacts how the food tastes. She wrote that if a person eats when happy, food tastes better, but if you eat when sad or upset, the same food might taste less or even bad.

6. The sound generated while eating a food may make a difference how much we enjoy it and how much it satisfies. For instance, if people wore ear plugs while eating crunchy potato chips they rated them less tasty and reported being less satisfied after eating them.

7. The appearance of the food affects how it tastes. If a person is served an artistically arranged salad, they tended to rate it tastier and more satisfying than if the salad was thrown together. Eating yogurt out of a heavy breakable bowl compared to a disposable plastic dish was rated with more satisfaction and satiety.

8. The more time and energy you put into food the more you may enjoy it and find it more satisfying. Several converging studies (my new favorite phrase when trying to impress) showed people rated food more enjoyable, more satisfying, and tended to eat less if they prepared it.

9. If you go on a ‘diet’ and feel deprived, you may actually end up eating more. I remember people telling me this and the author backed it up with studies. It appears the idea in your mind of doing without, makes it more likely for a person to eat more.

Rachel Herz encourages folks to step back and enjoy food. Her ending paragraph goes like this:

Food nourishes the body and the soul, and knowing how to get the most from our senses and our mind while eating makes it all that it can be. Food is an aesthetic immersion, whether you turn a salad into a Kandinsky painting or not. Food connects us to our past, to other people, to the world, and to ourselves. Food is memory, celebration, identity, conversation, emotion, glory, pleasure, pain, fear, disgust, comfort, and guilt. Food is aromatic salty, sour, sweet, bitter, savory, tingly, hot, and cold. Food is flavor and savor, art and sight, sound and music, texture and design, works and poetry, divine and decadent. Food is love and food is life. And knowledge of how our mind and body are affected by our food choices, and how our senses and psychology alter our experience of food and the consequences of eating, is power.

I read that paragraph several times. It’s an amazing paragraph! How about let’s eat!! If you made it all the way to the end of this, thank you and way to go. I would love to hear what you think.