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Sunday, January 21, 2018

How marriage affects your sense of taste

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A husband who dislikes his wife's cooking may have learned to keep quiet during the early years of marriage.
But the good news is that lacklustre Sunday roast might appear more appetising after a few decades together.
A study has found couples who are married for a long time appear to develop a similar sense of taste and smell.

Years of shared meals are thought to change what they find appetising, so that their tastebuds become more similar.

It is well known that eating things more often, from vegetables for fussy children to beer for adults, makes us enjoy them more. 

However the study, from the University of Wroclaw, is the first to show that couples change their food preferences after years of eating together.

Writing in the journal Appetite, the Polish researchers state: 'As partners share a household (including a kitchen and fridge) and a significant proportion of meals, they are more likely to eat similar types of food.

'Even though the role of genetics in accounting for individual differences in food preferences is well documented, shared environment and habits, and consequently exposure to similar olfactory and gustatory stimuli, might together shape similar preferences in both partners.'

Couples who had been married from three months to 45 years were tested on their preferences for various smells.
These included lavender, white chocolate, coffee, coca cola, cinammon, smoked meat, lemon and honey, which both partners were asked to inhale for five seconds.

The fragrances, which also include grass, turpentine, liquorice, lilac and grapefruit, were rated from one to five, from being liked a lot to not at all.

The 100 men and 100 women then had sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami flavours sprayed into their mouths, which they rated on the same scale.

The study found taste and smell preferences were more similar in husbands and wives the longer they had been together. 

The duration of their marriage made up nine per cent of the difference in their appreciation of flavour and six per cent of their preferences for smells.

The authors, led by Agata Groyecka, wrote: 'Dining customs seem to be an important part of the romantic partners' daily routine and therefore form a substantial element of their cohabitation. 

'However, dining customs can change over time as partners constantly influence. For example, eating habits and food choices have been shown to shift during the transition from single to cohabiting/married status.'

In some cases both partners equally change their tastes, as they share the same home and go out to eat with the same friends and family members. But one partner can also try to change the other's diet, in an attempt to make them eat more healthily.

The research follows previous evidence that married couples become more alike in personality and their appreciation of life over time, even beginning to mimic each others' facial expressions.

However liking the same smells was found not to make couples happier together, as these people actually reported lower relationship satisfaction.

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