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Food on the Mind: 20 Surprising Insights From Food Psychology

Stashed in: #lifehacks, Facts, #health, Emotion, Brain, Awesome, Psychology!, Nutrition!, Bananas!, Vegetables!, Fruit!, Smells!, Taste!

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16. Healthy foods improve your moodWe know that people who eat more fruit and vegetables are generally more satisfied with life and happier, but we couldn’t be sure that it was the fruit and vegetables that were really causing it.The very latest research, however, suggests that eating fruit and vegetables one day can actually improve your mood the next day (White et al., 2013). This is based on the idea that micronutrients like folates found in fruits and vegetables can help improve depression.

I like this explanation of why fruits and vegetables make us feel good.

Yes, I thought you would!  Although perhaps there's even more to it....

More to it than folates? Perhaps there are other nutrients too?

9. Eating intentions are beaten by habits

What’s the best way to predict what food you’re going to eat tomorrow? Should I ask about your intentions, your preferences or that diet you’ve just started?

Don’t bother. All I need to do is ask you what you ate yesterday. The best way to predict what you’re going to eat tomorrow is to examine your habits. On average habits tend to trump our best intentions and even our stated preferences.

Changing our eating habits is hard because so many decisions are made automatically, in response to routine situations we find ourselves in, and also because of…

2. You don’t know when you’re really full

We tend to think that the amount of food we eat is a result of how hungry we are. It’s a factor, but not the only one. We are also affected by the size of the plates, serving spoons, packets and so on.

This has been most memorably demonstrated in a study where participants ate out of a soup bowl that was filled up secretly from under the table (Wansink et al., 2005). Others were served more soup in the usual way. Those eating out of the magically refilling bowl had almost twice as much soup but felt no less hungry and no more full.

The moral of this strange tale is that our stomachs provide only crude messages about how much we’ve eaten. Instead we rely on our vision and the eye is easily fooled.

Here’s my healthy eating tip: force yourself to buy smaller packets of everything. Oh, and get rid of your automatically refilling soup-bowls: they’re really doing you no good at all.

5. Taste fades with age

As we age, our sense of taste gets weaker. One study found that the ability to detect salt was most affected, as was the ability to detect ‘umami’, now considered one of the basic tastes, along with sweet, sour, salty and bitter (Mojet et al., 2001).

Depending on the exact taste, older people may need between 2 and 9 times as much of a condiment like salt to experience the same taste. Men seem to be particularly affected by this loss in the ability to taste.

The reason is partly that older people have fewer taste buds but mainly that the sense of smell weakens with age. We actually taste much of our food with our noses, so when the nose doesn’t work so well, taste sensation is lost as well.

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