The taste of victory

There is no doubt if you look at the face of a winner as opposed to that of a loser after a game then there is real difference in emotion there. They say that victory is sweet and that defeat is a bitter pill but are these just random metaphors or do they have a base in reality? The impact of winning and losing on your sense of taste was exactly what some researchers set out to examine in a recent study.

To do this they followed 550 hockey fans across eight games during the 2013-2014 season. In that time there were four wins, three losses and one draw. After each game the researchers interviewed the fans to determine their emotional state and then gave them taste tests to determine how they reacted the five tastes; sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami.

Data analysis revealed that the positive emotions of victory were related to a heightened sensitivity to sweetness while the negativity of defeat was linked to a heightened sensitivity to sour tastes. This did not lead to fans wanting sour foods after a defeat, in fact after defeat fans craved sweet foods.

This reinforces the idea that your food choices are strongly influenced by your emotional state…which, frankly, comes direct from the University of the Bleedin’ Obvious. Perhaps what is more important though is that this is another reminder that taste is highly contextual. This news column has reported stories before showing how things from ambient noise, to the colour of your plate, to the type of cutlery you use impact how you taste things and you can throw into the mix your emotional state at the time of eating. “No man is an island” and no experience is an island, everything results from its connectedness to other things. That’s what complexity theory is about, the properties of a system cannot necessarily be tracked to individual components but arise from the whole system. Whether it be whole food, whole planet, or w-holistic medicine, the answer is always in the bigger picture.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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