Foodfindsasia.com | Bittersweet Symphony: The Link Between Food and Music | You might not be aware of the power of sound in influencing your palette. If you happened to enjoy that smoky braised brisket you ordered at the restaurant, the background music might have played a role in enhancing its flavors.
Studies show that the type of music you’re listening to while eating shapes your perception towards your food. From its volume down to its tempo, music is a key ingredient in turning a simple meal into a delightful experience. So, how is soundly connected to our sense of taste?
The Science Behind Sound and Pleasure
The sounds that our brain picks up from our immediate environment can significantly affect our psychology. Depending on its intensity, tempo, and frequency, these sounds can stimulate various emotional responses. They can either evoke feelings of happiness, sadness, fear, anxiety, excitement, or relaxation.
That is because these acoustics signals can affect our brain activity. Researchers found out that the musical strains we pick up can control the production of our dopamine, a hormone that regulates our mood and behavior. When dopamine is released, we tend to experience feelings of happiness and pleasure.
That’s why listening to soothing music can improve our mood as it activates our feel-good hormones. So, when we incorporate music into our dining experience, we feel a sense of pleasure and enjoyment partly because of this phenomenon. When you’re in a good mood, you’ll notice that every meal feels like an explosion of flavors in your mouth.
The Connection Between Volume and Flavors
The intensity of the music we’re tuned in on also affects our food choices. When we’re in a relaxing environment, we tend to choose healthier options. Meanwhile, when we’re enclosed in a noisy space, we gravitate towards less nutritious food items on the menu. How is that possible?
According to studies, the volume of music affects our physiological and neurochemical conditions. We can experience fluctuations in our blood pressure, heart rate, and stress levels depending on the loudness of the music.
When we listen to soft ballads, may it be through the location we’re in or the violin lessons we take, it affects our physiology, resulting in decreased breathing rate and lower blood pressure. Since we’re in a perfectly relaxed state of mind, we are more mindful of the decisions we make.
Meanwhile, when we’re exposed to ear-piercing music, our bodies tend to rev up, putting us into a state of excitement. Since loud tunes overstimulate our cardiovascular system, our stress levels shoot up. This physiological arousal prompts us to consume high-carbohydrate and high-fat food. We tend to order unhealthier options such as burgers, cakes, sandwiches, sodas, and ice cream, which is our bodies’ natural response to stress.
Another research validated this phenomenon after finding out that people tend to pick up high-calorie food in the grocery stores when loud music is blasted through the speakers. Because of the external stimulation of stress levels, people unconsciously choose the so-called comfort food. It’s no wonder why restaurants, bars, and groceries crank up their music to the highest decibel. So, if you find yourself in a situation where you’re tempted to go for unhealthy choices, perhaps the music playing the background might have something to do with it.
The Effect of Tempo to Food Intake
Aside from enhancing our palette and curbing our food preferences, music also influences our speed of consumption. Studies have shown that the tempo of the music we’re listening to can affect the pace of our food intake. The number of bites per minute changes depending on the type of music played.
Steady and relaxing melodies tend to make us eat our meals much slower because of its “sedative effects.” Meanwhile, when exposed to upbeat songs, we tend to wolf down our food much faster. That is because fast-tempo music has that arousal or stimulative effect.
Music’s impact on speed consumption also has something to do with how it plays with our motivation and energy levels. Just like how pop songs pump us up during physical exercises, fast-tempo music energizes up and makes us scarf down our food faster.
Upbeat music has proven to increase efficiency by 70% and reduce fatigue by 50%. On the other hand, slow-tempo tracks prompted a slightly lower rate. Soft music amped up efficiency levels by 60% while it decreased fatigue by 40% only.
That shows that we subconsciously adapt to the rhythm of the music we’re listening to. Knowing the relationship between our eating behavior and music, at least now, we can be more mindful of our choices.
From soft jazz tunes to loud pop tracks, music has different effects on our eating experience. You can further explore the power of music by researching more about it or go as far as engaging in fun music lessons.