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The power of the mirror to impact appetite
But, for some folks, the problem can be NOT eating enough.
Sometimes the reason for the NOT eating enough is pathological, but a lot of the time, it’s a social issue.
There is NO ONE to eat with.
And EATING ALONE is not so enjoyable.
Social facilitation of eating
Is the term used to describe the observation, that when people eat together, they eat MORE, than when they eat alone.
Why the social facilitation of eating happens, is still a matter of debate.
But, it does happen.
Food tastes better when you share the meal with friends or family AND you tend to eat more, when you’ve got company.
It kind of makes sense……
Eating alone is functional
You eat to get the energy and nutrients you need to function.
Hopefully what you’re eating tastes good.
But, there is little to no entertainment value in the eating process.
There is no one to make small talk with, there is no opportunity to catch up on the news of the day or have someone empathize with your current emotional state.
A meal with NO view
Plus the view while eating alone is rather static.
Yes the amount of food on the plate slowly shrinks, as you transfer fork loads, from the plate to your mouth, but this is not particularly interesting.
In short……….. eating ALONE is “BORING” !
Usually not a problem
Now, when you’ve got a healthy appetite, the fact that it’s a little boring, is not a problem.
Everyone in the body encourages you to feed them.
And the positive feedback, keeps you going.
But, when growing big and strong, is no longer the priority and appetite begins to wane, the lack of any entertainment value in the eating process, makes eating a chore, not a pleasure.
For older folks, living alone it can become an issue.
And failing to get the energy and nutrients needed to function, has long term health consequences.
Mirror mirror on the wall
A team of Japanese researchers from Nagoya University, set out to find a solution.
Thinking that one of the main “problems”, with eating alone is the view, they decided to spice up the view, by adding a mirror.
To test out their idea, they needed a cover story….
16 elderly adults, 5 ladies and 11 gents, were recruited from a job placement agency, to provide feedback on two types of popcorn, one salty variety and the other a caramel version.
This was a ruse….
The team really didn’t care what they thought of the popcorn per se, they wanted to know, what happened when they tasted the popcorn, in their specially constructed booths.
There were two variations of the test booth :
One had a mirror (42 cm by 60 cm), one just had a monitor.
The set up
The taste testing was an individual affair. Each participant sat alone at the booth. In front of them, was a bowl of freshly prepared popcorn.
They completed a pre-taste survey, designed to assess current mood.
Then when a buzzer sounded – they began tasting the popcorn.
They were free to eat as much as they wanted.
Ninety seconds later, the buzzer signalled tasting was over.
They then completed a post-taste survey, designed to gauge their impressions of the popcorn, as well as their current mood. Behind the scenes, the researchers scrambled to quantify just how much of the popcorn had been consumed.
So what happened ?
Seeing is eating
Eating popcorn made absolutely NO difference to people’s mood.
That said, the participants reported that the same popcorn was better, in terms of goodness, quality and liking, when it was eaten in front of the mirror.
And when sampling happened in front of the mirror…………. more popcorn was consumed.
Not an age thing
The mirror’s impact on appetite was not something only seen in old toppies.
The team repeated the experiment with 16 young adults, between the ages of 20 – 23 years and saw exactly the same thing. The popcorn was perceived as being tastier and more was eaten.
Social facilitation of eating
Happens in front of a mirror.
Use this to your advantage.
If you’re worried about the eating habits of someone living alone, spice up their dining experience by mounting a mirror, in their dining area. The mirror is enough to evoke the phenomenon of social facilitation of eating, encouraging them to meet their nutritional needs. Helping them to create BETTER BODY CHEMISTRY and better health.
NOTE : If eating too much is the PROBLEM, don’t be afraid to eat alone – you’re likely to eat less ! But don’t make the mistake of eating, while doing something else, you want your brain to perceive “boredom”, not be oblivious as, to how much has actually been eaten.
When you’re bored, you have NO PURPOSE. To feel more meaningful you need to FEEL something. Make what you eat FUN……
When this social interaction is “missing”, it produces more than SAD feelings, it changes our biology. And, these biological changes, make us, more lonely.
Modern youth are abandoning the kitchen table and deserting the TV – meal time is spent socializing with a thousand good friends on facebook