The Daily Telegraph
Smell your food and ditch iced water to eat healthily
EATING healthily could be as simple as ditching straws and iced water, or changing the colour of your crockery, according to a psychologist.
Prof Charles Spence, from Oxford University, believes that it is possible to feel satisfied while consuming fewer calories with a few brain tricks that fool the mind into healthy habits.
Prof Spence, who helps Heston Blumenthal create his multisensory dining experiences, claims that enjoyment of food is largely emotional.
He suggests ramping up the aroma and texture of a meal so the brain can easily tell when it has had enough to eat. Drinking through a straw suppresses much of the smell of a drink, which can lead to overconsumption.
“The more food sensations you can muster, the better,” said Prof Spence.
“Stronger aroma, more texture all helps your brain decide when it’s had enough. You should never use a straw to drink. It eliminates all the orthonasal olfactory cues that are normally such a large part of the enjoyment.
“Be sure to inhale the aroma of your food frequently, after all, this is where the majority of the pleasure resides.
“Whatever you do, don’t drink iced water with your meals. It numbs the tastebuds, plain and simple.
“Some researchers have even gone so far as to suggest that the North American preference for more highly sweetened foods may, in part, be linked to all the iced water they drink at mealtimes.”
In his new book Gastrophysics, Prof Spence also encourages people to eat from smaller – and if possible red – plates. Research has shown that eating from a plate that is twice the usual size can make people inadvertently eat 40 per cent more food. The colour red triggers avoidance in the brain and makes diners feel less hungry.
Eating from a heavy bowl in the lap, rather than on the table, also tricks the brain into eating far less, because the weight fools the mind into thinking there is more in the dish.
“Try to eat slowly and mindfully, and, yes, that means turning the TV off,” he added. “Eating with the TV on is one of the worst things you can do in terms of increased consumption. Finding that people eat 15 per cent more food with the telly on as compared to when it is off is not unusual.”
Gastrophysics is available now, published by Penguin.