Eating food with your HANDS makes it taste better – but it can also lead to weight gain because you eat more as a result
- Being able to physically touch food improves brain sensory perceptions
- By touching the food, the brain thinks it is tastier and more satisfying
- But the effects are only present in people who usually limit their diet
Eating with your hands makes it taste better, a study shows – but beware, it also lets you eat more.
Being able to physically touch the food improves the sensory perceptions of the brain, scientists said.
This means that even before food reaches the mouth, its touch reminds the brain that it is tastier and more satisfying than if the cutlery were used.
But researchers discovered that the effects were only present in people who usually limit their diet.
People who tend to eat what they want didn’t find food better when they first held it.
Research shows that if you eat food with your hands, it tastes better
The University of Stevens in New York asked 45 volunteers to view a Münsterkaas cube before she held it and then ate it.
Half of the participants held the food on a cocktail stick, while the other half held it with their fingers.
Participants who said they normally have a high degree of self-control over what they eat found the cheese tastier if they held it.
The findings were not seen in people who reported low levels of control while eating, even when they were holding the cheese with their fingers.
In a second experiment, 145 students were graduated in two groups.
The first group was instructed to imagine that they should be more careful with their diet and eat too much so that they could achieve their goals of being fit and healthy.
The other group was told to worry less about their weight and to allow themselves to enjoy good food to enjoy life more.
Everyone then received a cup with four mini donuts, but half got cocktail sticks and the other half didn’t.
As in the first experiment, participants were then asked to look at the food and evaluate its qualities.
The group that was prepared for more self-control tasted the food more positively when they touched it with their hands.
In a third study, 77 people received a container with 15 cubes of cheese in it. While filling in a form, they had to eat as much cheese as they wanted.
Those with the highest self-control who were allowed to eat the cheese with their hand consumed more than those who ate with a fork – seven cubes compared to four.
And people who had the least self-control ate about six cubes when they used a fork, compared to four when they used their hands.
Principal investigator Professor Adriana Madzharov said: ‘It is an interesting effect. It is such a small adjustment, but it can change how people evaluate your product.
‘The two groups do not seem to process sensory information in the same way.
“For people who regularly check their food consumption, direct contact causes an improved sensory response, making food more desirable and attractive.”
The findings are published in the Journal of Retailing.
Previous research into why people eat too much has discovered that people who surrender to junk food may end up in the part of the brain that is responsible for self-control.
Canadian researchers discovered that damping the part of the brain involved in willpower, known as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, led to people reporting more desires for high-calorie foods.
They were also more likely to eat junk food during a taste test.
WHAT WOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE?
Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grain, according to the NHS
• Eat at least 5 servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count
• Basic meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grain
• 30 grams of fiber per day: this is the same as eating all of the following: 5 servings of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-grain cereal cookies, 2 thick slices of whole-grain bread and a large baked potato with the skin on it
• Provide some alternatives to dairy or dairy products (such as soy drinks) with options for less fat and less sugar
• Eat some beans, legumes, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which must be fatty)
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consume in small quantities
• Drink 6-8 cups / glasses of water per day
• Adults must have less than 6 g of salt and 20 g of saturated fat for women or 30 g for men per day
Source: NHS Eatwell guide