Need to lose a few pounds? First, lend some to me. I could go for a pint. Second, and this is for the pounds that can’t be exchanged for lukewarm alcohol, try watching yourself eat something unhealthy in front of a mirror. No, seriously—according to research conducted out of the University of Central Florida, you’re far more likely to choose a healthy option if you’re forced to watch yourself eat in a mirror.
The study, conducted by marketing professor Ata Jami, compared the culinary choices of participants in two separate rooms—one with a large mirror, and one without. They were offered a choice between healthy fruit salad and calorie-dense chocolate cake.
“Under the guise of a taste test, all were asked to choose between a piece of chocolate cake (a common supermarket brand) and a container of fruit salad (from a can). Half of the 185 students were randomly chosen to sit in a room facing a mirror. The other half were put in a space where they couldn’t see themselves. After sampling their selection, participants were asked questions about the food and if they’d want to have it again.”
To keep the participants from becoming suspicious of the large mirror (and wouldn’t you be?), Jami came up with a little ruse:
“Those in the room with the mirror were told it was part of a different experiment about fashion and couldn’t be moved. ‘We didn’t want them to be suspicious of the mirror,’ Jami said.”
The results were certainly interesting:
“The students eating cake in front of the mirror, it turned out, liked the dessert less than those who couldn’t see their reflection. There was no such difference for the fruit-salad students.”
So why did the mirror-room participants like that decadent chocolate cake so much more? According to Jami, “You don’t want to see yourself eating unhealthy products because that does not match with standards of healthy eating.”
Well, I don’t know about you—but I think I look positively dashing with a thick coating of brown frosting over my teeth.
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