Why do I crave crunchy food? Blame your senses

Askuick poll: When you think of a delicious snack, what foods come to mind? I’m willing to bet you voted for things like pretzels, popcorn, chips or even carrot sticks in place of things like apple sauce or oatmeal, for example. Why? Crisis factor, of course.

Whether it’s a pile of pita chips, a crunchy apple, or a fresh cucumber salad, everyone (myself included) can’t seem to get enough of that crunchy, crunchy texture. But why?

According to a gastroenterologist (a person who studies stomach physics, aka how our food experience is shaped by our senses and our environment) and a psychiatrist Our perception of food does not depend solely on its taste. Interactions between our olfactory and taste receptors (smell and taste) account for about 80 to 90 percent of our taste perception. But what about the remaining 10 to 20%? As it turns out, texture and sound play an underappreciated role — and may explain the unique nudge that many of us find particularly uncomfortable when eating crunchy foods.

How does crunch affect our perception of food?

Have you ever sat down to watch a movie with a big bowl of popcorn, and before you knew it, it was all gone? Or, do you always need to add some fries to a sandwich to add a little crunch before you take a bite? Well, your love of the crisis may not be entirely coincidental.

According to Charles Spence, PhD, gastric physicist, professor of experimental psychology and head of the Multimodal Research Laboratory at the University of Oxford, his extensive research on multimodal taste perception Sensory perception shows that there is a direct correlation between crunchiness and the way food is perceived.

In a landmark study that Dr Spence conducted, participants bitten 180 Pringle chips between their front teeth and rated them for their freshness or crispness over the course of an hour. The chase? Participants received real-time audio related to their own biting actions through closed headphones. However, the auditory feedback has been manipulated in terms of its overall volume and frequency composition, making some chips sound sharper than others.

Results: Participants rated the fries as having a significantly crisper and fresher taste when the overall sound level was increased or when the high-frequency sound was increased. On the other hand, the chip is rated as old or softer when the sound and frequency are lowered. (Similar findings were observed in an Italian study of apples and crispiness.) Spence wrote in a 2015 review of studies on the subject: “Therefore, it appears that people’s perceptions of the textural properties of both dry and moist foods can be altered by just by modifying the sound we hear”.

Dr Spence says sound is a tactic that food businesses have used for decades. He’s partnered with companies like Unilever to offer a new way of product innovation that tests how consumers might react to foods depending on their crispiness. “It’s like a prototype in a way. We essentially changed the sound of the foods people were eating to see what they liked, to determine the sound they wanted to hear crunchy, crunchy or crunchy to design that product,” he says. explain.

What makes crispy food look so much better?

So, what exactly makes crunchy food more palatable than quiet, noiseless food? Dr Spence said: ‘Sound alone has no calorific value, so it’s strange that we might enjoy noisy food. Take, for example, a soggy chip (an unpleasant almost universal experience). “It has fat, sugar and flavoring. But all it doesn’t have is the crispiness,” he said. What makes a crispy potato chip so much more appealing than a soft, mushy one?

Dr Spence suggests that for our brains, crunch can indicate freshness, making it more appealing to the senses. “For fresh produce, such as fruits and vegetables, fresher produce tends to be noisier and has a higher nutritional value. Meanwhile, as they tend to age, they lose some of their nutritional value. In evolutionary terms, this could be why we prefer noisy foods, as this can signal freshness,” Dr. Spence said. Meanwhile, he notes that processed or fried (and crispy) fatty foods can be appealing as a proxy for energy density.

He also notes that crispiness helps redirect attention to the act of eating. “Most of the time when we eat, we don’t really pay attention to what we are consuming. We are using mobile devices, chatting or watching television. Rarely do we pay attention to what we are tasting,” he explains. However, noisy food draws your attention to your mouth, which Dr Spence says can make you more attentive to what you’re consuming and create a more enjoyable experience.

“When you eat something and keep eating it, you adapt to it. It fades into the background because of habit or adaptation, and it doesn’t taste as good as it did when you first took a bite. This desensitization process is slower if the food is noisy. That means you can enjoy noisy dishes for longer because the sound can help prolong the time [sensory] experience,” said Dr Spence, adding that current research is investigating these effects.

What are the psychological effects of crunchy foods on stress levels?

According to Hugh Humphery, MD, functional medicine psychiatrist and consultant with Everlywell, many factors play an important role in food choices, such as behaviour, society, and culture. But he agrees that the sensory quality of foods tends to take center stage, as Dr Spence’s research demonstrates. However, he says beyond this, crunchy foods can also benefit your stress levels.

According to Dr. Humphery, stress can lead to changes in the way you eat. “Studies have shown that when a person is stressed, the amount and type of food that person eats changes based on gender, age, type of stressor and alkalinity level,” he said. regime of that individual. However, according to him, there are certain foods that are top choices for people with stress, with crunchy foods being one of them.

“Crunchy foods lead to increased neural responses in areas of the brain that feel pleasure and reward, increasing feelings of happiness and reducing stress a second time,” says Dr. Humphery. Handing the bag of chips, why don’t you?

Crispy is the name of the game with this easy chocolate popcorn shell:


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