Human tongue is a thrill seeker. As it tires of one taste, it looks for another. This sensation-seeking tendency of the tongue is what accounts for the so-called sensory specific satiety.

Recall what happens in a buffet: while you might feel too full to eat another plate of roast beef and mashed potatoes, you wouldn’t mind trying something else. Sensory-specific satiety makes evolutionary sense: it assures that our food intake is varied in nutrient content.

From the weight management stand-point, however, this insatiable search for novel gustatory sensations entraps us in the horn of plenty, leading us to overeat to a point of unpleasant fullness. Research shows that increased variety of foods, particularly, with high palatability, may contribute to development and maintenance of obesity(Heatherington & Rolls, 1996, Raynor & Epstein, 2001).

Exploring Sensory-Specific Satiety

Sensory-specific satiety is an overeating liability, but there are ways to manage it. Remain conscious of whether you’re eating to satisfy your biological hunger or sensory hunger. Ask yourself: do I want this food because I am still hungry or am I just interested in its taste? If chasing the taste, then just taste, have a mindful bite. You don’t have to eat a whole serving just because you are interested in its taste! Also, factor in the sensory-specific satiety by cutting back on the portion size. Leave room for the curiosity of your tongue. In sum, when faced with a diversity of tastes, choose to taste all you can taste, not necessarily eat all you can eat! Rethink buffets, potlucks, and other kinds of smorgasbords as gustatory galleries – peruse, don’t abuse.