Using a mirror might actually help you stop eating junk food, per a new study. How? Researchers at Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab found that eating unhealthy food in front of a mirror can make it seem significantly less delicious.
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To get these results, researchers conducted a taste test with 185 undergraduate students. The students were asked to choose either chocolate cake or fruit salad. After selecting their food, half the participants ate in a room facing a mirror while the other half ate in a reflection-free setting. Afterward, they were asked to rate the taste of the food for the researchers.
Among the cake-eaters, those who ate in the presence of a mirror enjoyed their cake less than the participants who didn’t have to watch themselves eat. However, the people who ate fruit didn’t record any difference in tastiness due to setting.
“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 behaviors in a same way that they judge others,” lead researcher Ata Jami, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Central Florida, said in a news release.
In other words, having to actually watch yourself eat something unhealthy triggers discomfort brought on by deeply ingrained social standards (in this case, that sugar is bad for your health). However, after conducting a related experiment, Jami found this phenomenon only applies if you opted to eat the unhealthy food—because then you’re actually responsible for the choice.
In that case, could mirrors be a secret to making healthier food choices? Researchers believe the answer is yes.
So if you’re seeking an easy way to boost your weight-loss goals, you may want to consider picking up a new decorative mirror for your dining room or kitchen. It could help you (quite literally) watch what you eat.