Food. We talk so much about its origins, safety, and contributions to our health that sometimes we forget what a pleasure it can be. Sitting down to a meal can be a wonderful way to indulge all five senses, and when it comes to nutrition, that experience is too important to overlook.
As an article in the of the American Dietetic Association explains “In recent years, many health professionals (including dietitians) have focused on health and nutrition, often at the expense of pleasure and taste.¹ However, appealing to the senses can play an important role in whether food actually gets eaten and we get the balanced nutrition we need. It’s no surprise that if food doesn’t taste good people won’t eat it. And we know that nutrition is only as good as it tastes. When consumers are asked if they think healthy food can taste good, over half believe that food can be healthy and tasty at the same time. When asked, people in Japan, Spain, the Netherlands, and South Korea are noticeably less likely to believe that healthy food can be tasty.²
Taking time to experience the pleasures of eating can also contribute to healthier eating habits. Multitasking throughout the day seems to be necessary to accomplish all that you need to do. With a business to run, employees to manage and a personal life to foster, it’s no wonder so many of us eat on the run, while driving, or placing tomorrow’s order. However, if you’re just eating to refuel your body, you might be missing all the pleasures of food. You might even miss the sign
We're lucky enough to live in a time when we have access to a global village of flavor. Why not embrace it, and enjoy the pleasures of food?als when you have eaten too much.
The power of mindful eating
Mindful eating is being present, moment by moment, for each sensation that happens during eating, such as chewing, tasting and swallowing. If you’ve ever practiced mindfulness in any way (such as meditation, relaxation or breathing exercises), you are familiar with how easily our minds wander. The same happens when we eat. When you begin to practice mindful eating, one important thing to remember is not to judge yourself when you notice your mind drifting off the experience of eating. Instead, just keep returning to the awareness of that taste, chew, bite or swallow.
Did you know?
A person begins life with about 10,000 taste buds. They transfer information to a region in the brain that processes pleasure, memory, motivation, reward and desire.
1. Taste: the neglected nutritional factor. M A Hess October 1997, J Am Diet Assoc Vol. 97, Issue 10 Suppl 2, Pages S205-7.
2. Datamonitor Consumer Survey, 2009-11; vegetariantimes.com, 2011.