Whether you can’t leave a packet of hobnobs alone once it’s open, can eat a whole block of cheese in one go, or have a weakness for anything made out of bread (or, erm, wine), it could come down to your personality, rather than how tasty your poison of choice is.
Food psychologist Dr Christy Fergusson has, in partnership with ASK restaurants, delved into the science behind what tempts us and why, and has identified that three key factors affect our approach to food stuffs: 45% aroma (how it smells), 35% sight (what it looks like) and 20% positive association (knowing you loved it the last time you ate it).
“There are certain factors which play a universal role in attracting us to specific foods. Sometimes it’s in our DNA – for instance, women are more attracted to sweet foods (60%) than men (40%) – or an automatic response to senses such as the comforting reassurance of warm meals,” she explains.
“There are also certain foods that appeal across the board. The notion that chocolate is almost impossible to resist really is true – chocolate is proven to be the most tempting of all foods because of the “feel good” chemicals it releases: endorphins, dopamine and serotonin. We remember the way chocolate makes us feel, so we want to keep eating it. Even hearing the word ‘chocolate’ can make people feel euphoric. So yes – chocoholics really do exist.”
“However, the type of foods which prove irresistible to each individual is also heavily linked to their wider personalities,” she adds. “Every person is programmed to succumb to different foods, with factors such as gender, childhood memories, senses and wider personality all playing a part in deciding which foods are impossible to resist.”
Dr Fergusson has identified five temptation personality types. Which are you?
1. The Resister
Resistors easily stave off temptation and see food as fuel, not a source of comforting yumminess. When faced with a bar of chocolate versus a pot of hummus, the hummus will always win.
Dr Fergusson says: “You select foods based on your physical, nutritional requirements as opposed to helping yourself psychologically feel better. Although you can appreciate when something tastes or smells delicious, you find it easy to resist eating foods purely for pleasure. You tend to stick with the same types of foods and rarely experiment with new flavours. You’re disciplined, strong-willed and love routine.”
2. The Pushover
At home alone, pushovers find it relatively easy to leave the biscuits undisturbed, but if out for dinner with friends, they tend to crumble.
Dr Fergusson says: “You are easily swayed by other people’s food choices and don’t like missing out if they are having something tasty. You are easily talked into dessert, second helpings and an extra glass of wine. “Go on, you know you want to” is enough to make you rethink your menu choice in a flash. You’re laid back, social and love to look after others. You have a tendency to put others first and to people please.”
3. The Collaborator
Collaborators LOVE food, and particularly love food when it’s social and there’s lots of sharing involved. So opportunities to dig into huge sharing platters, going halves and desserts for two, are always welcomed.
Dr Fergusson says: “You always find yourself talking others into enjoying tempting foods with you. You always succumb to the sight or aroma of delicious delights and encourage others to indulge with you. You’re extroverted, fun to be around and love the company of others. You focus on enjoying yourself in the here and now.”
4. The Experimenter
Experimenters will try anything at least once, just as long as when it’s served it looks intriguing.
Dr Fergusson says: “You’re most tempted by meals which are visually stimulating and different from the norm. You love to bring a sense of adventure to the dinner table and don’t just stick to traditional and familiar meals. You’re adventurous, creative and a bit of a thrill-seeker.”
5. The Moderator
Moderators are the sensible ones. They’ll nibble on crisps and eat the occasional donut, but won’t scoff the whole bag, and will have a punnet of grapes waiting in the wings for balance.
Dr Fergusson says: “Your motto is: a little of everything that you fancy. You avoid resisting and depriving yourself of foods you are tempted by and prefer to enjoy everything in moderation. You enjoy trying new things and tasting new flavours but have a relaxed attitude with eating.”
What foods do you always crave? Tell us in the Comments box below.