Did you ever stop to consider whether the act of actually opening a wrapper, or stirring a drink, made a difference as to how much you enjoy the food or beverage?  Here’s an interesting bit of human food psychology – a recent study shows that these actions actually do enhance the pleasure of the food or drink itself.

The study found that a group of people who unwrapped a chocolate bar following a specific set of instructions enjoyed the chocolate more than those who were not given specific unwrapping instructions.  They also found that if there was a longer time between the food preparation ‘ritual’ and consumption of the food (time to drool?), the food was enjoyed more.  Finally, they found that enjoyment was higher if the food was prepared by another person, it was not enjoyed as much as if the food was ‘ritualized’ by the person eating the food.  So for example – watching someone else mix a pitcher of lemonade does not make the lemonade as tasty as when you do the mixing yourself.

So, it seems that the rituals of food preparation enhance the enjoyment of consumption because we are more involved in the food experience.  This comes back to the principle of avoiding Mindless Eating  – we end up feeling more satisfied with less food if we are involved in, and thinking about, the process of eating, from start to finish!

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