Hear the Crunch When Eating Your Popcorn? May Make You Eat Less

Admit it.  The sound of your husband crunching his breakfast cereal sometimes makes you consider divorce.

But did you know the sounds you make when eating food affect how you eat?  According to researchers at Brigham Young University and Colorado State University, the noise your food makes while you're eating can have a significant effect on how much food you eat.

The "Crunch Effect," as they call it, suggests you're likely to eat less if you're more conscious of the sound your food makes while you're eating. Therefore, watching loud TV or listening to loud music while eating can mask eating sounds that keep you in check.
"For the most part, consumers and researchers have overlooked food sound as an important sensory cue in the eating experience," says study coauthor Gina Mohr, an assistant professor of marketing at CSU, at newswise.com.

"Sound is typically labeled as the forgotten food sense," adds Ryan Elder, assistant professor of marketing at BYU's Marriott School of Management. "But if people are more focused on the sound the food makes, it could reduce consumption."

Researchers of course aren't talking about the pop of popcorn or the sizzle of bacon. It's more about how you feel when you're eating and it makes sounds.

A fascinating experiment discovered people eat less when the sound of the food is more intense. In that study, participants wore headphones playing either loud or quiet noise while they ate snacks. Researchers found the louder noise masked the sound of chewing and subjects in that group ate more--4 pretzels compared to 2.75 pretzels for the "quiet" group. (Good thing I wasn't in that group -- I would have eaten the whole bag, noise or no noise!)

"When you mask the sound of consumption, like when you watch TV while eating, you take away one of those senses and it may cause you to eat more than you would normally," Elder says. "The effects many not seem huge--one less pretzel--but over the course of a week, month, or year, it could really add up."

Another drawback to eating while watching TV (which I do,just about every meal), is that you may not be calculating how much you're eating.   Who hasn't eaten a bag of pretzels (yes, me) and thought, OMG, I can't believe I ate the whole thing.  How did I eat the whole thing?

It's all about mindfulness, being in the moment, which works for just about everything else, too.  Stay in the present.  It's the only place you are at this moment, and it will never come back.  


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