If you are trying to lose weight (and who isn’t?) you may want to pay attention to your ears, not your stomach.
An interesting piece, by Allison Aubrey from National Public Radio, cited several studies that indicated that the amount and substance of what you eat is directly related to your surroundings, particularly auditory, during meal time.
“I think there are lots of factors that come together to ultimately influence how much we eat,” says Suzanne Higgs, a psychologist at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. She’s studying how our state of mind influences what we eat.
Two groups of people were studied. TV on and TV off. It’s no surprise that those who were eating while watching TV ate more during the lunch, but later in the day when given a chance to eat some cookies, the group that had the TV on during lunch ate more cookies as well. It was almost as if they were “programmed” to eat more because they were distracted, and ate more the first time.
Another researcher, Andy Woods, studied the effect of background noise in a restaurant. He found that as the noise gets louder, people gradually lose their ability to taste salt and sweetness. He also found that if the people liked the music playing in the background while they ate, they perceived the food as tasting better.
One theory is that noise may distort the brain’s ability to gauge other senses. They plan to continue testing their hypothesis.
Paying attention to the act of eating is something very few of us do. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has devoured an entire XX-large bucket of popcorn during a 2 hour movie and then thought “What’s for dinner?”
We live in a world of distractions, but you may want to pay attention to what is in your ears and around you as well what’s on your plate the next time you sit down to a meal.