Nutrition-wise blog

Sweet tooth linked to sweet disposition?

By Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. November 9, 2011

Food is intertwined in so many aspects of our lives — nourishment, comfort and social connections. We even use attributes of food to express our feelings or describe someone's personality or behavior.

"Honey" is a term of endearment. Someone who is nice and caring is thought of as "sweet," while someone who is disagreeable might be described as "sour" or "bitter."

Why do we use taste to describe people? Is it because food is so much a part of our lives that it spills over into other areas of our lives? Or is there more to it?

Sweet taste is considered to be universally palatable. Breast milk is said to have a sweet taste. And sweet foods are generally perceived as pleasurable and even comforting.

From our earliest days, consumption of sweet foods in the presence of family creates a positive association. In fact, this is one of the theories presented in a paper in the "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology" describing how sweet taste preferences predict personality and behavior.

Other findings from this research include:

  • People who appear to like sweet foods are perceived by others as being agreeable and pleasant.
  • Pleasant people do indeed have a stronger preference for sweet foods than less pleasant people do.
  • Those with sweet taste preferences tend to be more likely to help others.

So it appears that your sweet tooth supports your sweet disposition. Savor the sweetness. Be sure to throw physical activity, portion control and a balanced diet into the mix as well.

To health and happiness,

Katherine

Nov. 09, 2011