A new study published in Physiology & Behavior, suggests that eating in front of a mirror will enhance your dining experience.
According to researchers at Nagoya University, eating in front of a mirror "tricks" the brain into thinking another person is eating with you, a.k.a. the "social facilitation of eating."
"We wanted to find out what the minimum requirement is for the social facilitation of eating," lead author Dr. Ryuzaburo Nakata said. "Does another person have to actually be physically present, or is information suggesting the presence of others sufficient?"
In the study, 16 participants (between the ages of 65 and 74) were asked to eat caramel or salted popcorn for 90 seconds, rating their enjoyment of the popcorn in different situations. The participants were asked to do this three times -- while eating alone, in front of a mirror, and finally while watching a video of themselves eating.
Following the experiment, researchers discovered that people eating alone reported food as tasting better when they could see themselves reflected in a mirror. In fact, eating in front of a mirror improved the popcorn's "goodness" by 21 percent, "sweetness" by 25 percent, and overall quality by 12 percent.
Researchers then followed-up with an additional experiment, where participants were asked to eat in front of a photo instead of a mirror. The photo experiment yielded the same results.
"Studies have shown that for older adults, enjoying food is associated with quality of life, and frequently eating alone is associated with depression and loss of appetite," author Nobuyuki Kawai said. "Our findings therefore suggest a possible approach to improving the appeal of food, and quality of life, for older people who do not have company when they eat -- for example, those who have suffered loss or are far away from their loved ones."