Go ahead -- clink glasses, sing "Happy Birthday" or even snap a photo for Instagram before you dig in. A new study has found that performing a ritual before eating actually makes the food taste better.
All of these little ceremonies make us more mindful of what we're eating and drinking, which means we'll slow down and savor the experience more.
In one experiment, researchers told participants to eat a chocolate bar. Half were given a ritual to perform before eating it: they snapped the bar in half in its paper, unwrapped half the bar and ate it, then unwrapped the other half and finished the chocolate. The others were told to wait a while and then eat the chocolate without following any particular ritual.
Those that performed the ceremony enjoyed the chocolate more than those who didn't, the researchers said.
Follow-up experiments with lemonade and carrots yielded the same results -- study participants ended up enjoying their snack more if they had a ritual to follow.
Next, researchers would like to see whether rituals can help prevent overeating, or if it can persuade people to eat foods they hate.
The study was published in the journal Psychological Science.