A magazine for friends of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Why You Eat What You Eat


The Science Behind Our Relationship With Food

By Rachel Herz, PhD, W.W. Norton & Company, 2018, $25.95

“Food porn is more than semantics. … The fact that we are wired to desire food and sex is evolutionary theory 101—if we didn’t like them so much we wouldn’t be here.”
—from Why You Eat What You Eat

For most people (Soylent diehards excepted), eating is so much more than calories in. It’s a full-blown sensory experience: from the color, size, and weight of a plate, to our proximity to serving dishes, to the volume and frequency of the sounds around us, the factors that influence how much we eat, and how much we like it, far exceed taste and aroma.

Herz, an adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the Warren Alpert Medical School and an expert on the psychology of smell, digests hundreds of academic studies into bite-sized portions to explain the interplay of psychology, physiology, and neuroscience behind our food choices and our appetites. Along the way she dishes on food myths and controversies: Is umami a taste? Can grapefruit help you lose weight? Do “organic” and “fair trade” labels prompt unhealthy eating? Like an all-you-can-eat buffet, Herz’s book will satiate any reader.

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