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Why You Eat What You Eat

The Science Behind Our Relationship with Food

Rachel Herz, PhD


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Other Editions of This Title:
Compact Disc (12/26/2017)
MP3 CD (12/26/2017)
Compact Disc (12/26/2017)


An eye-opening exploration of the psychology of eating in today’s unprecedented North American pantry of abundance, access, and excess.

In Why You Eat What You Eat, acclaimed neuroscientist Rachel Herz examines the sensory, psychological, neuroscientific, and physiological factors that influence our eating habits. Herz, who’s been praised for her “ability to cite and explain academic studies in a conversational manner” (Washington Post), uncovers the fascinating and surprising facts that influence food consumption—such as why bringing reusable bags to the grocery store encourages us to buy more treats, how our beliefs can affect how many calories we burn, why TV influences how much we eat, and how what we see and hear changes how food tastes—and reveals useful techniques for improving our experience of food, such as how aromas can help curb cravings and tips on how to resist repeated trips to the buffet table.

Why You Eat What You Eat presents our relationship to food as a complicated recipe, whose ingredients—taste, personality, and emotions—combine to make eating a potent and pleasurable experience. Herz weaves curious findings and compelling facts into a narrative that tackles important questions, revealing how psychology, neurology, and physiology shape our relationship with food, and how food alters the relationship we have with ourselves and each other.

Praise For Why You Eat What You Eat: The Science Behind Our Relationship with Food

A fun and compelling book that touches upon several subjects.
— Library Journal

One of Herz's major strengths is her skill at creating catchy phrasing to convey complicated scientific theories and experiments.
— Kirkus Reviews

Herz . . . delivers on her promise to explain human eating habits in this research-based work on neurogastronomy. . . . Herz's book illuminates Western eating habits and offers some ways that both individuals and wider society might change in order to make Westerners eat more sanely.
— Publishers Weekly

Eating can be a pleasure or a compulsion, and it can fatten, daze, energize, sicken, or kill some of us—but not others. Rachel Herz deftly and charmingly explains the latest science on the mysteries and paradoxes of this eternally fascinating human pastime.
— Steven Pinker, author of How the Mind Works and The Better Angels of Our Nature

Rachel Herz . . . reveals how our minds and emotions influence taste, and vice versa, helping explain why there is such a thing as bacon-scented underwear, why grapefruit aroma suppresses appetite and why loud noise enhances tomato flavor. Your plate, and your skivvies, may never look the same.
— Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix

Continuously fascinating . . . Rachel Herz sets new standards in helping readers deal with the vast range of problems that beset our eating habits.
— Gordon Shepherd, author of Neurogastronomy

This engaging and accessible account by a leading neuroscientist has something for everyone.
— Rachel Laudan, author of Cuisine and Empire

There are so many reasons, besides being hungry, that we eat the food we do. Rachel Herz writes clearly and evocatively about the science behind these choices, ones dictated by all of our senses.
— Molly Birnbaum, author of Season to Taste

W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393243314, 368pp.

Publication Date: December 26, 2017

About the Author

Rachel Herz is a neuroscientist specializing in perception and emotion. She teaches at Brown University and Boston College, and is a professional consultant. The author of The Scent of Desire and That’s Disgusting, she lives in Rhode Island.