Your relationship may be affecting what you eat

WASHINGTON — Have you ever wondered what the biggest influences are on what you eat and the way you eat it? Sure, genetics and cultural and environmental factors play significant roles, but you should also look closely at your chosen romantic partner.

Lean Plate Club™ blogger Sally Squires says research has found that people in romantic relationships tend to like the same kinds of food. In fact, the longer a couple is together, the more their taste preferences will start to match.

“The latest evidence can be found in the scientific journal Appetite which studied 100 couples who had been together anywhere from just a few months to decades, and it’s fascinating that the longer that these couples were together, the more likely their taste preferences had merged,” Squires said.

The research is published in the September 2017 issue of Appetite and included couples ranging in age from 18 to 68 years. Squires said that researchers tested a range of flavors and aromas and determined that longevity in relationships shaped the likes and dislikes of these couples.

But there was a surprise, Squires noted.

“While their taste and smell preferences merged the longer the couples had been together, the researchers found that this tendency did not necessarily reflect satisfaction with the relationship,” she said.

Of course, not all couples like all of the same food. But Squires noted that as many couples share the same household budgets and meals, they tend to find ways to prepare and eat meals that they can agree upon.

Squires said there are external influences on our tastes and food preferences as well — such as advertising. Recognizing that, she said researchers have been studying if there are ways to inoculate people against cravings for certain foods. It is similar to work that’s been done to help people avoid smoking or drinking alcohol.

“The most recent study looked at a food that some people really love and tend to overeat, such as chocolate,” Squires said. “In one group, they showed people lots of pictures of chocolate and told them to pay attention to it while another group was told to ignore it. Then both groups were given foods to eat — including chocolate. Those who were told to ignore it, actually ate significantly less chocolate.”

Squires noted that it’s not just a one-time experiment and it would need to be repeated in order to keep the inoculation active and functioning. But she said it is indication of one way that we can control our cravings despite our taste preferences.

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