Anticipating the taste of food can actually make you less hungry for it and even make it less tasty. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that when people make food for themselves, they tend to "preconsume" it by thinking about the food. This process makes it less desirable and less tasty because of a phenomenon called habituation, which is the reason why humans can deal with extremes; as people get used to the extreme, they become desensitized, and it seems normal. The more preconsumption occurs, the less people tend to eat of the food they made. This is why food generally tastes better when someone else makes it — when another person makes the food, you don't preconsume it, which means that you're likely to be hungrier for it and find it more tasty.
More facts about taste and food:
- Habituation works with imagining food, too. In studies where volunteers were asked to think about M&Ms®, those who thought about eating the most M&Ms® actually ate the fewest when they were offered them later during the experiment.
- Some people recommend dieters to use this method when faced with cravings, although it might not work for very strong cravings.
- This reverse of this phenomenon might also be the reason why dieters can't stop thinking about certain foods while on a diet.