If you can’t kick your bad food habits, you may just need a new piece of furniture in the dining room – a mirror.
Researchers have found that eating unhealthy food in front of a mirror can make it seem less tasty.
To find these results, experts from Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab asked 185 participants to choose from two meals – chocolate cake or fruit salad. After making their selections, half of the group ate in a room facing a mirror, while the other half were free to eat their food in a mirror-free setting. They were then asked to rate the taste of their food.
It enables them to view themselves objectively and helps them to judge themselves and their behaviours in the same way that they judge others
It seems like eating cake in front of a mirror doesn’t bring the same pleasure as sneaking a few bites when no one (including you) can see. Researchers found that those who were able to eat their cake without a mirror enjoyed their food more. There was no difference in taste ratings for those who ate fruit.
Researchers believe this may be guilt around food choices coming in to play. “A glance in the mirror tells people more than just about their physical appearance,” lead researcher Ata Jami said in a statement. “It enables them to view themselves objectively and helps them to judge themselves and their behaviours in the same way that they judge others.”
Looking in the mirror highlights the feeling of discomfort of making a poor food choice, and lowers the perceived taste.
The study results suggest that when you actually have to watch yourself eat something unhealthy, it causes a feeling brought on by social standards – that fatty, sugary foods are bad for you and you shouldn’t be eating them. Looking in the mirror highlights the feeling of discomfort of making a poor food choice, and lowers the perceived taste.
Jami’s theory only worked when the participant felt responsible for the food choice – eating healthy food in front of the mirror did not change the perceived taste. According to these experts, a mirror may be the secret to resisting that extra slice of pavlova this Australia Day. Unless it's this delicious recipe.