Our basis is founded on much of the food psychology literature which suggests individuals have a very difficult time resisting foods either when they are in view (Boon et al., 1998; Cornell, Rodin, and Weingarten, 1989), or that they have already purchased and currently are present within the household (Chandon and Wansink, 2002). Other experiments documented in Wansink (2006) reveal that overt suggestion is sufficient to influence food consumption even if respondents explicitly deny that the suggestion had any influence at all.
Although people think they make 15 food decisions a day on average, his research shows the number is well over 200. Some are obvious, some are subtle. The bigger the plate, the larger the spoon, the deeper the bag, the more we eat. But sometimes we decide how much to eat based on how much the person next to us is eating, sometimes moderating our intake by more than 20% up or down to match our dining companion.
Food can be used to help heal injuries, physical and psychological. What child's tears haven't been dried with the promise of a cookie? A bad day at work evaporates with comfort food.
For the truly wounded, food is a shield. The connection between raped women and eating disorders is well established. They starve themselves so they can disappear. They feed themselves to dull the pain. When the inevitable weight gain comes, they embrace the safety and security of their mass. Size equals strength. What man could see a woman's body, distorted by fat, as a sexual conquest now?
Zuckerbrot concluded that how a food makes you feel is more complex than its nutrient profile alone. The whole soy and real fruit bar scored well on all levels. Whole soy is all-natural and provides complete protein and essential nutrients important to good health. The soy and fruit bar's high ratings based on taste and perceptions of healthfulness speak to the psychological satisfaction of the food. By fulfilling the multiple physical and psychological dimensions of hunger and cravings, the whole soy and real fruit bar was able to best meet participants' overall satisfaction and was, ultimately, rated highest among participants as the food they would be likely to choose again.
Where do food cravings come from? Many research studies suggest that mental imagery may be a key component of food cravings - when people crave a specific food, they have vivid images of that food. Results of one study showed that the strength of participants' cravings was linked to how vividly they imagined the food. Mental imagery (imagining food or anything else) takes up cognitive resources, or brain power. Studies have shown that when subjects are imagining something, they have a hard time completing various cognitive tasks.
After viewing a few organic foods, comfort foods or control foods, participants who were exposed to organic foods volunteered significantly less time to help a needy stranger, and they judged moral transgressions significantly harsher than those who viewed non-organic foods. These results suggest that exposure to organic foods may lead people to affirm their moral identities, which reduces their desire to be altruistic.
About a third of children in the U.S. are considered overweight or obese, and researchers believe television advertising is a significant contributing factor. A study in the July issue of Health Psychology showed that 7-to-11-year-old kids who watched a cartoon peppered with food commercials ate 45% more snacks while viewing the show than did kids who watched the same program without ads.
If there's a food that makes you feel sick on sight, chances are that your brain is enacting a behavior that's been passed down for millions of years. It's called taste aversion, and it's one of the strongest conditioned reactions in humans.
The practical significance of psychological research on food intake stems from the increasing evidence that nutrition is a key determinant of health, behaviour and development. The professional significance for psychologists comes from the range of psychological expertise which is relevant to the study of eating. The amount of research varies between different aspects of food intake. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia have always attracted a good deal of attention and the neurochemistry of feeding has been investigated in animal laboratories.
The mesolimbic region in the center of your brain—the area that processes pleasure—lit up. The vagus nerve flashed signals to the stomach, which began to secrete digestive acids. The pancreas began churning out insulin. The liver cranked up to refine the body's chemistry to accommodate the sugar and fat and starch that were coming in. As all those complex processes were unfolding, your midbrain filed away a simple, primal, unconscious idea: Cupcakes are good. A lifetime love affair—perhaps pleasant, perhaps tortured—began.