How listening to yourself eat might actually help you cut down on unhealthy snacking practices.
Everyone has a pet peeve. It could be the sound of nails on a chalkboard, or maybe hearing a coworker click their pen all day as they work. For a lot of people, the sound of chewing is one that will drive them right over the edge of sanity.
Hearing someone else chew causes a gag reflex for a lot of people. Fortunately, hearing yourself chew isn’t usually that much of a problem. That is because our ears don’t focus in on the sound of our own chewing. Instead, we usually listen for sounds going on outside of our body. When you eat, you may hear the TV or you might hear a conversation between friends, freeing you from focusing on the sound of every little bite that you take.
Is this actually a good thing? With 60 percent of the American population either overweight or obese, maybe being a little less enthused about our own eating practices is in everyone’s best interest. This is the thought that led a small group of researchers at Brigham Young University to find out what impact the sound of chewing would have on dietary practices, specifically regarding mindless eating. Except that they weren’t so interested in how you would respond to hearing other people chew. Instead, the researchers wanted to find out how people reacted to hearing their own chewing noises.
To complete the study, researchers compiled a large sample of undergraduate students and split them into groups. Both groups were given pretzels to eat and headphones to wear, except only one group had something to listen to. For the other group, the headphones served as a method of amplifying the sound of their own chewing. You give it a try. Put on a pair of headphones and then try having a snack. You might be surprised by how much the sound of your own chewing resounds in your ears. The researchers found that this was actually enough to get participants to stop snacking. The pretzels were still in front of them, but they weren’t as likely to dig in and enjoy.
What can this mean for you and your snacking habits? Well, it may actually open the door to a rather useful trick. It might be hard to re-train your snacking habits, but it isn’t hard to find a pair of headphones. When you know it is the time of day when you are prone to looking for a snack, put your headphones in. If you are listening to music, keep the volume real low. When you do take a bite of something to eat, you’ll hear yourself chewing. You’ll hear it even more if you just leave the headphones in without any sound. The sound of chewing may be just enough to prevent you from overdoing it with any mindless snacking.