New doctor's orders: No earbuds, no music, and no watching TV while eating.
Researchers at Brigham Young University and Colorado State University have found that 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 your intake in check.
"For the most part, consumers and researchers have overlooked food sound as an important sensory cue in the eating experience", said one of the study’s authors.
To be clear, the researchers are not talking about the sizzle of bacon or popcorn popping. The effect comes from the sound of chewing, chomping, crunching.
The louder the sound of eating, the less food consumed
The research team carried out three separate experiments on the effect of that "food sound salience" and found even suggesting people think of eating sounds (through an advertisement) can decrease consumption.
The most interesting 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.
"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," the researchers 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.
The main takeaway: mindfulness. Be more mindful of not just the taste and physical appearance of food, but also of the sound it makes. Doing so can may help prevent you from overeating.
Source: Food Quality and Preference, 2016.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.