If you want to eat less, pull out your earbuds, stop the music system and switch off the television before heading to the dining table — and tune into the sweet sound of your food while it is being chewed.
Researchers have found that the noise your food makes while you eat can have a significant effect on how much food you eat. Therefore, watching loud TV or listening to loud music while eating can mask eating sounds that keep you in check.
“If people are more focused on the sound the food makes, it could reduce consumption,” said one of the researchers Ryan Elder, assistant professor of marketing at Brigham Young University in Utah, US.
The researchers carried out three separate experiments on the effect of ‘food sound salience’. In one of the experiments, the researchers discovered that people eat less when the sound of the food is more intense. In that study, the researchers compared how much participants ate while listening to loud music to those who were not disturbed by music while eating their snacks.
They found that louder noise masked the sound of chewing and that group ate more — four pretzels compared to 2.75 pretzels for the ‘quiet’ group.
“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 said. “The effects many not seem huge — one less pretzel — but over the course of a week, month or year, it could really add up,” Elder explained.
The findings suggest that being more mindful of not just the taste and physical appearance of food — but also of the sound it makes — can help to ‘nudge’ consumers to eat less.
The study was published in the journal Food Quality and Preference.