Ever got cravings for sweets but felt iffy about getting too much sugar? Or wondered about ways to sweeten snacks at home—while minimizing the sugar added?
You’ve got options.
As we'll detail below, we taste our food and drinks differently when we engage multiple senses (and even emotions) while consuming them—even when what we’re having is exactly the same thing.
That goes for tasting sweetness as well, and we’ve rounded up some science-backed “sweetening” strategies for you—without having to add anything (like sugar). Read on for 4 tips:
1. Play music
Whatever you’re consuming may taste sweeter when you play music with higher pitches—or consonant harmony—in the background (1,2). So, consider playing instrumental music, like that produced by piano, cello, or even bells (3).
Playing music that makes you happy and peaceful is another option. Participants in a 2019 study tasted their drinks as sweeter while listening to music associated with positive emotions, whereas those given negatively associated music rated the same drinks as more bitter (4).
Sounds of nature are great, too. According to this other 2019 study, playing bird and forest soundscapes was linked to boosts in people’s perception of sweetness in desserts, whereas replacing the sounds with machine soundscapes led to increased perceptions of bitterness instead (5).
2. Watch winning moments
Researchers from Cornell University found that watching a home team win can boost positive emotions and, in turn, sensitivity to sweet tastes (6). On the other hand, feeling negative emotions shifts sensitivity towards other flavours in that same food, like sourness (6).
So, check out replays of your favourite teams’ victories—or award ceremonies where your favourite pop culture icon nabs something shiny.
3. Consume after coffee
A study from 2020 shows that drinking coffee, whether regular or decaffeinated, makes us more sensitive to sweetness and less sensitive to bitterness—that means what we eat or drink after a swig of coffee can taste sweeter (7).
4. Get together with those you love
In a 2013 study, the level of sweetness in snacks with mixed flavours (sweet-sour and bitter-sweet) and in water was tasted as higher for participants feeling loving emotions than those feeling other emotions, e.g. jealousy and, intriguingly, even happiness (8).
So, if you have someone or something you love very much, consider being near them (and think loving thoughts) before and while you enjoy your food or drink.
Now that you’ve got these hacks, consider how you can use them to cut out (even more) sugar from your diet for a healthier life. Here’s to your sugar-minimized journey!
Psst, if you crave something physically sweet-enhancing, we’d love for you to try erythritol, a healthy, diabetes-friendly sugar-alternative! We actually sell this—check it out at our store, right in Vancouver!
For even more insights, visit this article from The Globe and Mail!
By Shawn Chang