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The Crunch Effect is Real

Hello, my name is Nan, and I’m a chip-aholic. I’ve been chip-sober 33 days and feel great. I don’t think I’ve ever gone 33 straight days chip free. Ever. I’m not lying and I’m not making fun of AA or any addictions, for that matter. If anyone needs an AA type program for their addiction, it’s me. In fact, I have more respect now for anyone who is fighting an addiction than ever before. And just like any other serious addiction, mine is far from healthy. Even though I eat the “healthier” chips, it’s still not a good idea. If there is a bag of chips anywhere within my vicinity, I will find it. That crinkle sound a bag of chips makes when someone grabs it or tries to open it quite possibly could wake me from a coma. I know you all think I’m joking, but I am not. Ask my family and they will confirm my chip addiction. I can eat a whole bag or can. In one sitting. Senselessly eating.

I decided to give up chips as I began a 52-day challenge for something else. I’ll write about that challenge when the 52 days are over, but for now, I thought why not give up chips at the same time? It was the beginning of Lent and even though I’m not a practicing Catholic anymore but now a practicing Christian, I figured what could it hurt? I’ve tried to give up chips before for Lent and never succeeded. Maybe it was all that Catholic guilt and pressure I put on myself. Who knows, but like I said, I’ve have never, ever gone 33 days without chips in my entire life. Yet this time it’s been easier. I’m not sure why, but I’m not done with the 52 days yet, either.

However, I am going strong and extremely happy with the results I’ve seen. My belly is less bloated, and I feel much better not eating all that processed food. I do miss the crunch, though, and have substituted with cassava root chips, cauliflower chips, lentil chips, or cauliflower crackers from time to time. While these items are processed better than a regular potato chips, they too can cause bloating, pressure, and/or bellyaches. So, I tend to go slow and easy with these items but sometimes I fail here, too, so I’m considering severely cutting back on these as well. Plus, while they’re a decent substitute for potato chips, they’re still NOT potato chips.

Let’s talk about the crunch. What is it about crunching? Is it a nervous tick kind of thing? I do admit to being an emotional eater as well as having a bit of anxiety from time to time, and these are the times I want to crunch more than usual. I do not eat raw vegetables, ever, so don’t suggest I eat a carrot or celery or even an apple because that won’t work. I love vegetables but I always juice or steam. Unfortunately, apples do not agree with me at all, and I LOVE apples. So how do I get my crunch time in? My teeth need to crunch.

Here are some interesting facts that may shed some light on the crunch. Research shows that auditory properties have been called “the forgotten flavor sense.” In other words, the more conscious a person is of the sound their food makes while they are eating, the less they are likely to overeat. This is labeled the “Crunch Effect,” by researchers from Brigham Young University (BYU) and Colorado State University (CSU). Ryan Elder, assistant professor of marketing at BYU’s Marriott School of Management, says: “Sound is typically labeled as the forgotten food sense. But if people are more focused on the sound the food makes, it could reduce consumption.”

Well, that’s awesome news, but why doesn't it work for me when it comes to chips? I don’t stop when I should, but wait a minute, most of the foods I eat are soundless. Yeah, there’s no noise involved unless I’m eating with my mouth open, so perhaps that’s why I crave the crunch so much. I’m craving the auditory property called “the forgotten flavor sense”. Wow. I like the sounds of that (no pun intended). I’d like to think that this new revelation takes away some of the responsibility for my potato chip addiction, but since I’m usually eating chips while watching TV, reading, or sitting around chatting with family or friends, it doesn’t.

In their research at BYU and CSU, they also found that the louder the noise masking the sound of the crunch or chewing caused participants to eat more. Not significantly more but more, nonetheless. Suffice it to say, again, that being mindful while we are eating should include how it sounds as well as taste and texture. I’m not sure how I will try and include more crunch-filled foods into my present dietary lifestyle, but I’m sure going to give it some thought. If any of you out there have some suggestions, I’m all ears.

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