"The greater the culinary variety, the more we eat."

Rachel Hertz, who became a sensory and cognitive neuroscientist in 1990, took up the study of the physiology of odors. She was interested in the relationship between consciousness and perception of the world around her, particularly the perception of food. Her book, Why We Eat What We Eat, is the result of much research and an attempt to understand how and why the senses, the brain, and external factors influence taste sensations and the motivation to eat. How food changes physiology, consciousness, and behavior. The book was published in Russian by Bombora Publishers. With the publisher's permission, Lenta.ru publishes an excerpt.

Do you want me to tell you the secret of self-control in a self-service restaurant? Sit as far away from the buffet as possible. The easier access to food, the more likely it is to end up in your mouth. Studies show that people who sit close to the dessert display in the cafeteria are more likely to order a treat than those who sit far away. We eat more ice cream when we leave the lid of a thermal container open; we drink more milk when a milk dispenser is nearby, and we pour more water when a pitcher of water is in front of us.

This principle works not only in the restaurant, but also in the office. When candy was lying on desks, employees ate six more chocolates a day than when they were two meters away, i.e., they had to stand up to get them. It is an undeniable fact: the shorter the distance between a person and the food, the more he eats. The amount of food in sight also affects the amount of consumption. The greater the culinary expanse, the more we eat.

A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found: people ate more pretzels, cookies and crackers when they were depicted in abundance on packages. So if food manufacturers started putting more modest pictures on the packages of chips and cookies, we might be able to curb our appetites. The truth is that we will go into the candy department less often and spend less money, and that doesn't help the companies at all.

How much food we see and how much we eat is influenced by how it is organized in the kitchen or in the refrigerator. Barbara Kahn of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, along with food and branding guru Brian Wansink of Cornell University, watched subjects through a hidden camera as they were offered a tray of 300 jellybeans and asked to sit in a room for a while - told that they were supposed to take part in a TV commercial evaluation. Half of the subjects were given a tray on which the candies were arranged by color - yellow, orange, green, etc., and the rest were given a tray with candy mixed in. As a result, "unorganized" candy was eaten almost twice as much as "organized" candy.


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