Eating With Your Hands Makes Food More Appetizing, Study Says

mbg Editorial Assistant By Abby Moore
mbg Editorial Assistant
Abby Moore is an Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine.
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Image by Aleksandra Jankovic / Stocksy

When it comes to certain foods, it might feel impossible to stop snacking. Though the salty crunch or the creamy bite might tempt you initially, recent research suggests it might be the utensil—or lack thereof—that keeps you coming back for more.

The study, published in the Journal of Retailing found people with high levels of self-control considered food more satisfying after touching it directly, compared to eating it with a utensil. They also tended to eat more of whatever that food was. 

People with high self-control in this case were described as individuals who can "resist tasty foods and are conscious about what and how much they eat," according to a news release.

Lead researcher Adriana Madzharov, Ph.D., split 45 students into two groups. One half ate a cube of Muenster cheese with a toothpick while the other half used their hands. 

Before eating it, both groups reported relatively similar opinions about the cheese. After eating it, however, those opinions changed. The majority of the direct-touch group ultimately perceived their food to be tastier and more appetizing than the group who ate it with a toothpick.

Those with low levels of self-control did not experience an altered perception, regardless of direct or indirect touch. 

"Our results suggest that for people who regularly control their food consumption, direct touch triggers an enhanced sensory response, making food more desirable and appealing," Madzharov said. 

This experiment implies that sensory experiences can manipulate self-control. This information might help us be more mindful of our goals, especially when it comes to eating. But if you're ready to treat yourself, drop that fork and grab a bag of our favorite chips.

Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.

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