What is it about biting into a perfectly ripe strawberry at a summery picnic that fills us with happiness? And why is tucking into a fresh bowl of juicy grapes just so satisfying? Chances are, it’s because you’re enjoying something delicious, with the added benefit of knowing that it’s good for you, too.
This feeling has been confirmed by a new study from the psychological scientists at Caltech. It explores the relationship between the choices we make about the food we eat, and they’ve found that the processing speed of the brain is one of the most important factors when it comes to picking a snack (Herbert, 2014).
Taste, for example, is processed by the brain much faster than more abstract food qualities like texture or nutrition. In their experiment, they found that, when people were asked to choose between foods high in taste and foods high in nutritional value, the taste factor was processed about 195 milliseconds earlier than any health attributes in the other option.
While 195 milliseconds may not seem like a long time, in choosing your food, it’s actually pretty significant. It goes a long way in describing why we might choose to snack on sugary things, or we might feel reluctant to reach for a salad that hasn’t got many tempting flavours. It also accounts for why delicious fruits make us feel so good — they have the double effect of satisfying our cravings for something tasty and meeting our aim of eating healthily.
This complexity in decision making is a great insight into our eating habits — and explains why we make the choices we do. It can also make us more aware of when we make a choice based on our processing speed, which helps us understand how we go about deciding whether it’s the right choice for us.
At Eurest, we don’t believe you should have to make a choice between healthy and tasty. Our food is delicious and we prepare it to the highest nutritional standards, so you know that whatever choice you make, it’s the right one.
Source: Herbert, W, 2014. Apple or Ice Cream? The Mechanics of a Healthy Choice. The Huffington Post, [Online]. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wray-herbert/apple-or-ice-cream-the-me_b_5908672.html [Accessed 14 October 2014].