If you're looking for a way to reduce your eating, try turning off the TV.
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 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 you from overeating.
The effect comes from the sound of mastication: chewing, chomping, crunching. Researchers carried out three separate experiments on the effect of “food sound salience” and found even suggesting people think of eating sounds (through an advertisement) can decrease consumption.
One of the experiments discovered people eat more when the sound of the food is less 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,” said Ryan Elder, assistant professor of marketing at BYU’s Marriott School of Management. “The effects many not seem huge—one less pretzel—but over the course of a week, month, or year, it could really add up.”
Researchers said the main takeaway for people should be the idea of mindfulness. In other words, being more mindful of not just the taste and physical appearance of food, but also of the sound it makes can help “nudge” consumers to eat less.
So next time you eat, put away the earbuds and enjoy the sweet sounds of your food.