A recent study conducted by the Sharp Research Institute’s Center for the Human-Food Bond concluded that a dynamic relationship exists between humans and food, suggesting that each has a profound influence over the other. The research indicates that when humans interact with food on a regular basis, they experience noticeable physiological changes, including reduced irritability, a decrease in blood pressure, and a feeling of general well-being and satisfaction.
Food plays a central role in the lives of humans, but a more complex relationship exists between the two than originally thought. Research into the human-food bond included women who were 20-39 years old (according to Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development) and who were undergoing stress in their personal lives. The cognitive, physiological and emotional responses of the women were monitored throughout the eight week study.
Because women at the “Intimacy vs. Isolation” stage in life are generally willing to make long-term commitments if they are normal, the study focused their capability of forming an intimate relationship with food. The aim of the study was to determine how effective food was in relieving distress and what relationship, if any, developed between the women and the food involved.
The majority of the women developed an attachment to the food during the course of the study. “With some women, we noticed a pair bonding type relationship with a high level of emotional bonding. We saw some real displays of affection between the women and the food,” lead researcher Cody Smart said. “It was pretty awesome, honestly.”
There appeared to be a mutual, interactive process occurring between the majority of the women and the food that suggested the formation of a close personal relationship. “It was like the food knew exactly what I needed,” one woman involved in the study said. “The frosting on that cupcake was sweet, but not too sweet, and had a great mouth feel. That was no accident. I needed that.”
There were a few women in the study who developed some negative feelings after spending time with the food. These women may be mentally unwell, suffering from psychological problems that render them unable to develop healthy relationships in any area of their lives. These problems may include bipolar disorder, attachment disorder, and homosexuality.
The study indicated that the food was there when the women needed it and performed exactly as expected. The women, in turn, provided the food with exactly what it needed to succeed. This give-and-take relationship lead to the development of trust and ultimately a strong emotional bond. The scientific study of the human-food bond is still in its infancy, but researchers hope to make great strides in this area of study.