Being on a diet is always hard considering the amount of temptations that you are surrounded with on a daily basis. Its difficult to choose a food that you know is going to be more healthy for you if you see a piece of cake right next to it because you know the cake tastes better. There is other reasoning for this besides just that the cake would taste better.
In this article it talks about a study conducted by Nicolette Sullivan, Cendri Hutcherson, Alison Harris, and Antionia Rangel. It was found that across 28 students that fasted for four hours were presented with 300 random pairings of fruits, candies, chips, and granola bars. It was shown that taste influenced the decision of what food they picked to eat almost 200 milliseconds faster than other influences such as health and calories. This is because the brain can process more concrete ideas better than abstract ones, so you are able to pick which food tastes better before you are able to recognize which one is more healthy. It was also shown that subjects that demonstrated higher self-control picked the healthy item 323 milliseconds faster than those with low self-control. It is suggested from the study that if people start to consider a food’s health factors before; however, that is shown to be more difficult because the brain processes taste for the idea of health. Sullivan states that the “findings of the study suggest if you add a waiting period before choosing what food you are going to eat then it allows the health information to ‘catch up’ in the comparison process.” Or, if a restaurant posts the calorie count visibly on the menu it would help encourage people to think more about what they are ordering. They are looking to expand the study to include other decision-making aspects such as saving vs spending money and deciding between doing a nice act vs a selfish one.
In another study done by Cepeda, Blackwell, and Munakata they find that different processing speeds affect the relationship between executive control and decision making. This could be crucial in children making quick decisions. They could be more likely to make a bad decision because it seems like more fun and their brain does not process the repercussions as quickly. As people get older their ability to make decisions should improve which could be due to slower processing times. It would be interesting to see whether adults choose better foods and have a slower processing time of taste compared younger people.