Habit Makes Bad Food Go Down Too Easily
Food for Thought:
Do you snack in the car while waiting to pick up the kids from sports? Do you routinely munch on crackers or chips while cooking dinner? Do you ever find yourself eating mindlessly simply because it fits a ritual you have?
University of Southern California (USC) researchers recently showed why poor eating habits persist even when the food we’re eating doesn’t taste good.
Researchers gave people about to enter a movie theater a bucket of either just-popped, fresh popcorn or stale, week-old popcorn. Those who did not usually eat popcorn at the movies ate much less stale popcorn than fresh popcorn. The week-old popcorn just didn’t taste as good. But those who indicated they typically munched popcorn at the movies ate about the same amount of popcorn whether it was fresh or stale. Apparently, for those in the habit of eating popcorn at the movies, it made no difference whether the popcorn tasted good or not.
“When we’ve repeatedly eaten a particular food in a particular environment, our brain comes to associate the food with that environment and makes us keep eating as long as those environmental cues are present,” said lead author David Neal, PhD, who was a psychology professor at USC when the research was conducted and now heads a social and consumer research firm.
The study, which appeared in the June 2011 issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, can help researchers understand overeating and the conditions that may cause people to eat even when they are not hungry or do not like the food.
“People believe their eating behavior is largely activated by how food tastes. Nobody likes cold, spongy, week-old popcorn,” said study co-author Wendy Wood, provost professor of psychology and business at USC. “But once we’ve formed an eating habit, we no longer care whether the food tastes good. We’ll eat exactly the same amount, whether it’s fresh or stale.”
For the latest research, statistics, sample classes, and more, "Like" IDEA on Facebook here.
© 2011 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.
|Extreme Interval Training
In this course you'll learn goal-focused intervals and over 50 dynamic exercises and drills to create extensive and intensive training formats.
|Cut to the Core
This is a raw, unedited video filmed live at the 2009 IDEA World Fitness Convention™. Cut to the Core is packed full of core-focused exercises that aim to improve the way you look, feel and live.
|September 2011 IDEA Fitness Journal Quiz 4: Plyometric Training
This continuing education quiz is an in-depth look at plyometric training. Plyometric exercises—jumping, bounding, hopping, arm pushing, and catching and throwing weighted objects such as machine balls—are movements that involve rapid eccentric and concentric muscle actions.