Have a habit of eating unhealthy snacks?
Blame your meddling mind: When choosing what to eat, your brain automatically factors taste into the decision before you consider whether it's good for you, finds new research from California Institute of Technology.
In the study, participants chose between two foods on a computer screen. The researchers analysed the subjects' decision-making process by tracking how each person moved the computer mouse. They found that flavour influenced the choice before health did, but people who had more self control factored healthiness in sooner.
The reason taste pops to mind first is because it's a concrete, visceral attribute, says study author Nicolette Sullivan. You don't have to think about whether you like the flavour of your favourite snacks. On the other hand, it takes a little consideration to determine whether a food is good for you, it's not as easy for your brain to compute.
Because taste factors in first, it can drive your decision, says Sullivan. But to have more self control at snack time, just pause for a beat instead of automatically reaching for the Doritos.
"Waiting just a little longer may very well allow health to have more of a say in your final choice," Sullivan says. "The waiting time might not even have to be very long, 1 or 2 seconds might be enough, and that's something the average person can do very easily."