In an opinion piece published in the journal Flavour, Møller writes that gaining pleasure from eating when hungry makes evolutionary sense, but pleasure also comes from expectations before eating a meal, as well as a feeling of well-being afterward. Entirely from anecdotal experience, he suggests many people may restrict their consumption of high-quality foods like good parmesan cheese or rich chocolate when available, while they may eat much greater amounts of lower quality hard cheese or chocolate.
“The question can be phrased as whether ‘quality’ can replace ‘quantity’,” he wrote.
In a 2013 experiment, Møller and colleagues served study participants either a traditional manufactured tomato soup or, on another visit to the lab, the same soup spiced with chilli. They found that the participants reached satiety faster with the chilli-spiced soup, and their desire for more decreased faster than with the ordinary soup – even though wanting of the spiced soup was initially higher.
“The subjects liked better the spiced soup that satiated them faster. That is, eating a more rewarding food does not imply that normal subjects will eat more of it,” he wrote.
“…People often consume substantially less of a food that provides more sensory pleasure than they do of a blander version of the food. That is, the more sensory rewarding a food is, the less people tend to eat of it. If this is the case, sensory satisfaction could promote healthier eating rather than the opposite.”
He also cited research suggesting that when people consume monotonous diets, or when they eat foods they find bland or unappetising, they tend to have stronger cravings for the foods they like the most.
“This result suggests that it is not a good idea to limit intake of liked foods in order to limit overall intake, under the assumption that people will tend to eat more of a food the more they want it,” he wrote.
This is not the first time researchers have suggested that improving the flavour of foods could lead to greater satisfaction; a recent study also published in Flavour tackles the issue from a food manufacturer perspective,claiming that use of ‘kokumi’ (mouth-filling) flavour compounds could help create tastier low-fat foods.
Vol. 4, Iss. 4 doi:10.1186/2044-7248-4-4
“Opinion: Taste and Appetite”
Author: Per Møller