Small rituals performed before eating can enhance food’s flavor, study suggests

Small, daily rituals performed before eating food can actually change the way a person perceives the food he or she is eating – sometimes making it taste better, Nature World News reported.

In a new study published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers from the University of Minnesota conducted several experiments to see how pre-eating routines affected people’s enjoyment of food.

In the first experiment, participants were told to eat a piece of chocolate.  Some of the participants were given a detailed set of instructions to follow before eating the chocolate – including breaking the bar in half before unwrapping it.  The other participants were told to relax and eat the chocolate any way they liked.

Ultimately, those who performed the “ritual” found the chocolate to be tastier than the group that ate normally, and were even willing to pay more for the chocolate bar.

Data from the other experiments also showed that a longer delay between a pre-eating ritual and food consumption enhanced these effects even for more neutral foods like carrots.

Lastly, the researchers found that personal involvement in the ritual is crucial.  Watching someone else perform these tasks wasn’t enough to “improve” the flavor; individuals must feel drawn into what they are doing before they eat.

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