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Would Carrots by Any Other Name Taste as Sweet? Study Suggests Not

Although Shakespeare’s Juliet claimed that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” apparently that’s not true with today’s young people, who demonstrated that when it comes to veggies, the desire — and ultimately perceived taste — is all in the name. Researchers found that giving fancy names to common dishes in a college cafeteria resulted in more people choosing the “fancy” dishes, according to The New York Times. For example, giving a sweet potato dish a name like “zesty ginger-turmeric sweet potatoes” instead of “cholesterol-free sweet potatoes” resulted in 41 percent more sales of the same dish.

This is an interesting take on why people choose what to put in their diets, especially since this study was conducted with nearly 28,000 participants. It also highlights the fact that there is a whole psychology of eating we usually aren’t even aware of. To that end, a PBS documentary has revealed food psychology secrets that may change your approach to eating.

The film shows that many things — besides the name — factor in to not only what you eat, but how much. From the size of your plate and utensils to the color of your placemat, hidden food “triggers” can influence you before you even take your first bite. And once you begin, your actual food choices can even influence your mood!

For example, research shows that dark chocolate, berries, coffee, bananas, omega-3 fats and turmeric (curcumin) tend to boost your mood, whereas sugar, wheat (gluten), and processed foods have been linked to poor mood.

When it comes to overeating, other research shows that simply thinking happy thoughts can help you avoid piling too much on your plate, as well as to choose healthier foods. So, if you want to get a jump on the psychology of eating, try a few tricks of your own. Begin with a smaller plate, which tells your brain you’ve got a lot there when it’s filled. Then learn to chew each bite slowly, which allows you to both better savor the taste as well as give you a fuller feeling as it’s digested.
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