Chocolate

If you think psychologists don’t do enough research with practical applications, you’ve got another think coming. A team of researchers from Gettysburg College have just published a study on a topic we can all get behind: how to get the most enjoyment out of a bite of chocolate.

The secret? Being mindful, it turns out.

Previous research looking at the relationship between mindfulness and chocolate consumption has had a slightly different focus: how to use mindfulness to reign in chocolate cravings.

For example, earlier studies have found that training people in mindfulness can help them eat less chocolate, experience less intense chocolate cravings, and resist eating unhealthy foods when hungry.

But let’s be honest: those studies are no fun.

So with the latest study to look at mindfulness and chocolate, researchers took a different approach: if you can’t beat chocolate cravings, make the most of them.

In the experiment, they provided participants with chocolate (something tells me they didn’t have much trouble finding volunteers for their study) and instructed the participants to eat the chocolate either mindfully or non-mindfully. They also had some participants do the same but with crackers.

Additionally, they had participants take a questionnaire measuring mood both before and after eating the chocolate or crackers.

They found that eating chocolate made people happier, but especially when people ate the chocolate mindfully. In other words, people who ate the chocolate mindfully experienced more of chocolate’s mood-raising effects than people who didn’t. The mindful chocolate eaters also got a bigger happiness boost than either the mindful or the non-mindful cracker consumers.

So if you’re looking for a science-backed, easy-to-implement happiness tip, there you have it. Skip the crackers.

Instead, eat a little chocolate, and eat it mindfully. What you eat matters, but it turns out that how you eat it matters too!

Image: Flickr/Siona Karen