A team of researchers have found that watching oneself in the mirror while eating can reduce the perceived tastiness of the unhealthy food. Researchers suggest that placing mirrors at restaurants could help diners make healthy choices and ultimately combat obesity. Most often people choose the unhealthy food because it is considered to be tastier.
The study involved 185 undergraduate students who took part in the taste test. The students chose between a chocolate cake and a fruit salad and evaluated its taste in a room with a mirror and no mirrors around.
‘Eating in the presence of a mirror reduces the perceived tastiness of unhealthy food, promotes healthy eating practices and ultimately combats obesity.’
Participants who chose chocolate cake evaluated it less tasty in the room with a mirror compared to those with no mirrors. The presence of a mirror did not change the taste of the fruit salad.
"A glance in the mirror tells people more than just about their physical appearance. It enables them to view themselves objectively and helps them to judge themselves and their behavior in the same way that they judge others," said lead researcher Ata Jami of the University of Central Florida.
The findings of the study showed that mirrors can push people compare and match their behavior with social standards of correctness. When a person fails to follow the standards, they do not want to look into the mirror as it increases the discomfort of the failure. Thus, mirrors can induce discomfort and lower the perceived taste of the unhealthy food. The mirror does not change the taste of healthy food because eating healthy food does not induce discomfort.
The study was published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research.