I’m all in favor of consuming calories, as I am a human being who enjoys being alive in a world full of delicious things, but I understand the need to cut down on their intake sometimes. A new study indicates that being able to hear yourself eating—all those delightful crunching, slurping, and licking sounds everyone loves to listen to—could help you cut calories by as much as 30%. People dislike hearing themselves eat as much as they dislike hearing their own voices! Paying attention to noise (or lack thereof) could make you snack a little less.
Researchers gave bowls of pretzels to 71 people with the information that they could eat as many as they wanted. All participants wore headphones during the study while researches changed the sounds in them. Some participants heard loud white noise and others heard it softly. The result was that people who had been listening to quiet white noise ate 45 percent fewer pretzels than those who had had the loud white noise—because they could not hear themselves eating.
Dr. Ryan S. Elder, author of the food study and an assistant professor of marketing at Brigham Young University, says that hearing yourself eat might be a kind of “consumption monitoring cue.” If you can hear yourself chowing down, you’ll hear how much you’re eating and you might wish to stop.
It has long been understood that “mindful” eating can help people lose weight. If you’re distracted or doing other things while you’re eating, you’re more likely to consume more. Hearing yourself is one option, but doctors also suggest that watching yourself eat can also be a big deterrent of overeating. Like eating in a quiet room, putting a mirror on front of you while you eat can also help. You can read some of my other feelings about the mirror trick here (spoiler alert: I’m not a fan), but both methods work the same way.
Eating in a quiet space might not always be an option for people, but it would be interesting to see how you feel after mindful eating and after distracted eating!