News Stories

To Eat Less, Work Harder

If you work hard cooking that Thanksgiving dinner, you'll not only enjoy it more, you're likely to eat less of it. It's commonly accepted that we appreciate something more if we have to work hard to get it, and a new study bears that out, at least when it comes to food. It seems to suggest that hard work can even enhance our appreciation for fare we might not favor, such as the low-fat, low calorie variety. At least in theory, this means that if we had to navigate an obstacle course to get to a plate of baby carrots, we might even prefer them to a Snickers bar.

Also, people who are overweight have a greater sense of smell for food (maybe because they have a greater INTEREST in it). But here's a surprise: People are slightly better at smelling food AFTER they've eaten rather than when they're hungry. Scientist already knew that the part of the brain that processes information about smells is connected to the parts of the brain that control eating. Researchers trained mice to respond to two levers. If they pressed one lever once, they were rewarded with a sugary treat. Another lever had to be pressed 15 times to deliver a similar snack. Later, when given free access to both tidbits, the rodents clearly preferred “the food that they worked harder for. Psychologist Alexander Johnson says, "Basically, what we have shown is that if you have to expend more effort to get a certain food, not only will you value that food more, but it might even taste better to you."

Does this mean that today's obesity epidemic could be at least partially explained by the fact that food is too EASY to get today? Agricultural subsidies make food relatively inexpensive, we buy it in huge supermarkets, cook it in a microwave, or avoid cooking altogether by going out for fast food. If our food isn't delicious because we didn't work hard enough to get it, we may eat more of it, in the hope that it will taste as good as it smells. If this website was edible, you'd fine that it tasted as good as it smelled, because we DELIVER what we promise! But maybe, because the internet is free, we're too easy to access and therefore people don't appreciate us enough. The truth is pretty stark: If we don't get more support from our readers and listeners, we just won't be here tomorrow, so subscribe (it costs less than a latte a WEEK!) And enjoy your home-brewed coffee in one of our Dreamland mugs.

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