It can be hard to resist tearing into a particularly mouthwatering dish of food as soon as it hits the table, but research [PDF] suggests that it might be best to hold on a second.
Under experimental conditions, researchers gave participants very specific instructions on how to consume a chocolate bar:
"Without unwrapping the chocolate bar, break it in half. Unwrap half of the bar and eat it. Then, unwrap the other half and eat it."
Compared to participants not given the unwrapping ritual instructions, the test group reported that they enjoyed their eating experience more, would be willing to pay more money for the chocolate bar, and even reported it tasting better.
What does that mean for us non-experimental eaters? It means that taking a minute to really appreciate your food can have a huge impact on how much we end up enjoying it. A true lover of food might pause to take in the aromas of a dish, and the religious might say grace; still others might snap a picture on their phone to upload to their social networks. Any pre-eating ritual should do the trick—as long as you manage not to drool with anticipation in the meantime.