Context plays a major role in how we eat—our brains process and make subtle judgments about our food before we ever even take a bite.
According to new research, even factors as simple as what type of utensils you use to eat can influence your perception of how food tastes. (See: Plate Size & Color Can Make You Eat More).
The question is, how does it influence the way we taste? And how can we best use this to our advantage?
What You Eat With Affects How You Eat
In a recent study published in the journal Flavour, researchers found that the size, weight, shape, and color of eating utensils all played a role in determining eaters’ impression of food flavor.
This study comprised three separate experiments using 100 student participants. Participants perceived food as sweeter when eaten off of lightweight spoons traditionally used to serve dessert, but felt their food was saltier when served from a knife rather than a spoon, fork, or toothpick. They saw yogurt as denser and more expensive when tasted from a lightweight plastic spoon, and less sweet when tasted from a black spoon versus a white spoon.
In order to comprehend exactly how utensils influence taste, you can experiment with different types of cutlery, plates, etc., until you see if there are factors in the way that you’re eating now that affects how much, or what type of food, you eat.
Can The Type Of Silverware Help You Eat Better?
Learning more about the effect of environment on our eating behavior could have a positive influence on how we consume food.
Vanessa Harrar, one of this study’s co-authors, thinks that this emergent field of research could eventually help you improve your eating habits. “While this area of research is still young, I would suggest that any major changes one can make to their dining behavior (something that makes them break out of eating habits) will cause them to eat healthier and taste food better,” Harrar tells BuiltLean in an e-mail. “For example strange cutlery, plateware, lighting, music, or changes to the food itself – all should enable one to break out of habits.”
And breaking bad eating habits is what getting lean and living a healthier lifestyle is all about. “Breaking old habits is extremely hard, but is really the key to improving behaviors such as eating,” says Harrar.
It’s easy to lapse into automatic eating patterns. What we eat, how much, and when can quickly become food consumption behaviors that we barely think about. But if something as simple as utensil color and size can alter our eating behaviors, food perception research may have the potential to improve your mindfulness at mealtime.