Shrink Your Gut with Gastrophysics
How one meal can change everything you think you know about eating – and overeating
SO YOU’RE SITTING IN A BOOTH
at a fast-food chicken joint. Maybe you’re there because of a funny commercial you saw on TV, or a nostalgia-induced craving, or it’s convenient and you’re starving. You unwrap the crinkly paper to unveil a squishy bun hugging a warm breast of fried chicken. Sizzling from the kitchen punctures the Top 40 music playing above. The aroma of crisped fat intensifies. You take a bite.
Hmmm. It tastes, well, kind of sucky. It’s not nearly as juicy as the ad made it look or as delicious as the ones you remember. Yet you eat, and maybe eat more of it than you should, as if compelled by outside forces.
The truth is, those forces – from the texture of the wrapping and the lightness of the bun to the tooloud pop music – are intentional. Scientists have long known that much of what you “taste” when you’re eating isn’t about your palate. A new branch of research is proving the assumption that all of your senses are at play when you eat.
To experience these findings firsthand, I paid a visit to Charles Spence, Ph.D., director of the University of Oxford’s Crossmodal Research Laboratory in London. Spence, an apple-faced man with a penchant for brightly coloured pants, has popularised the term “gastrophysics” to refer to the science behind brain-belly communication.•