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Music and Meals

Music and Meals

Hear the Music?

Did you ever notice while you're grocery shopping, there is almost always music playing in the background? Did you ever find yourself humming to it, or singing along in your mind? Have you ever pretended to be reading a food label when in fact, you were listening to the music?

Have you ever wondered why the music is playing? Many supermarkets pipe in soothing music designed to relax customers who are likely to be in a rush due to the hectic lifestyles of today. You see, the longer you linger, the more you are likely to buy. Studies show that rhythm often wins over reason.

Grocery Bag You may get home with your groceries and realize that music is still floating around in your head. You may have even hummed it or heard it in your mind on the drive home. So, as you unpack and put away your groceries, you find this music is floating through your mind and somehow, this otherwise mundane task is a little more bearable.

After the groceries are all tucked away, music often accompanies food on its trip from stove to table. Music can have a way of making the process of cooking a meal, dining and even washing the dishes afterwards, more pleasurable. Three of our most basic feelings and emotions come from love, music and food. When entertaining loved one's and dear friends, it is no surprise that music be added to the mix. You then fulfill the three most basic feelings in us humans.

Music evokes precious memories for most of us. When you want a comfortable, happy atmosphere put on music that is familiar to you and to your guests. Hearing familiar music we've known and loved tends to make us smile, rock back and forth, tap our toe, sway and have an overall feeling of contentment and calm.

Most people respond the most positively to music they knew in their teens and twenties. That seems to be the time in our lives music has the biggest impact and that impact stays with us the rest of our lives. It invokes memories of special times, times of youth and vibrancy. Times lacking the stress of day to day struggles and aggravations faced as you get older.

Documented statistics prove that music stimulates appetites and is often used in treating people who suffer from an eating disorder. When you play music, especially music you know someone loves the brain releases endorphins and serotonin. These two chemicals elevate a person's mood and stimulate the part of the brain that controls the mood. Music also stimulates motor impulses we need to feed ourselves with. For the elderly patients, anorexics, those who are weak or ill, music is known to be amazingly helpful in getting them to eat.

You do have to determine just what kind of music to play for a specific event. For a dinner party, you want the music to be more intimate. For cocktails, however, you may want to play something a bit more upbeat and fun to lift the spirits. Know your dinner companion's music preferences and play them when you entertain. They won't even know why they feel best when dining at your place! Of course, if you suffer from free-loaders, turn it around and find out what they least like and play it loud when they mooch a meal! Okay, half kidding -- but only half!

When it comes to musical preferences for dining, there is no group better qualified or more vocal than musicians. Thus, an interview was done with musicians about their relationship with food and music. One musician made a reference to his creativity being similar to that of a cook. He said a cook create a masterpiece to share with others, just as a musician does with his/her music. Rather nice analogy, isn't it? All of the musicians interviewed said music definitely affects dining habits. Their snacking habits, too! One musician said jazz gave him the munchies for junk food. Another stated classical music gave her cravings for comfort food. Rock music invoked an urge for snack type food and vocal music distracted her so she lost her appetite completely.

Musicians, retailers, therapists and all others agreed on one point - music played too loudly spoils the mood for dining or anything else - unless your in a club or at a rock concert. Complaints such as having to raise your voice to speak, unable to make out what someone else was trying to say to you and feelings of irritability were brought about, creating a most unpleasant atmosphere for dining. Music too loud or even music that isn't suitable for a certain occasion can spoil the dinner as well as the mood. Stress levels get elevated and that in turn disrupts the digestive process.

The rest is up to you and your taste, preferences and imagination as well as that of your company's. Think about some of the most pleasurable music you've enjoyed. Think of music that makes you feel good, brings back fond and happy memories. At your next dinner party, give these ideas a try. Hopefully, you'll be pleasantly surprised and also, hopefully a most pleasurable time will be had by all.

Music to Cook By

Chef Cooking When the urge to cook or bake hits you, do you first go for your CD's or turn on your favorite radio station? This gets many moving in the kitchen and makes cooking an enjoyable experience. If you don't do this, try it sometime. You may be surprised at how much more pleasurable cooking to music can be. This is especially helpful to those who aren't particularly fond of cooking.

People chose many different types of music to get them moving in the kitchen. One acquaintance of mine says listening to Italian music pumps her up to cook lasagna. Spanish music, to cook Spanish dishes, etc. Another person said classical relaxes her and allows her to enjoy what she is doing and lose the feeling of pressure to get the meal on the table she so often feels. Some prefer their favorite radio station for the extensive collection and variety played.

Whatever your preferences are, whatever your taste in food and music, combine the two when cooking and when dining with that someone special or having a dinner party. Add the love you feel for your partner and/or friends and you've got the perfect mix of those three most basic needs. You cannot lose.

Dine to Slow Music

Our eating habits often have little to do with the biological need for food. We get into certain food routines for all kinds of reasons, such as convenience and comfort. Use your habits to reduce your tendency to overeat without depriving yourself of the food you need. Here is one powerful strategy: Listen to slow music while eating, and your meal will take longer to eat and result in your eating less.

Researchers at John's Hopkins University found that music affects how fast we eat: The average diner eats five mouthfuls a minute when listening to no music, and three mouthfuls a minute when listening to slow music.

Now...Relax and Chew, Chew, Chew

People who rush through meals are twice as likely to be overweight, regardless of what they eat, according to a Japanese study in the British Journal of Medicine. The problem: Wolfing down food may not give your brain enough time to realize you're full, researchers say, so you keep eating and stuff yourself. Eating in front of the TV might have similar drawbacks. And some meals - think fast food - offer a double whammy because they're loaded with calories and easy to gobble fast. One trick for slowing down: Chew longer. Sure, you've heard it before, but it works. Another small study shows chewing each bite 20 to 30 times cuts calorie intake.

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