One thing that we don’t always take the time to fully appreciate is food.Sure it’s something that’s necessary for us to survive, but we often opt for what’s quick or eat mindlessly instead of choosing something healthy and paying attention while we eat. Food activates so many of our senses that a little effort can go a long way.Think about it: you notice two things right away about food: how it looks and how it smells. If it looks good visually, we start to think it is going to taste good, too. The more colors you have on a plate, the more appealing it will be—again, making us think it will taste better. The same thing goes for smells. If something smells terrible, no matter how delicious it might be, we aren’t going near it. The texture is important, too. We’ve all got foods that we avoid because of the way it feels—whether it be mushy bananas or slimy okra, there’s something that makes you gag just thinking about having to put it in your mouth. There are sounds that we look for, too, when we are cooking—the snap of spaghetti when it is broken so it fits in a pot, the crunch of a crispy potato chip or a ripe apple. But the most important sense involved with food is taste; the better something tastes, the more likely we are going to be to eat it.
As you can see, cooking and eating is a much bigger sensory experience than you might have realized. We should acknowledge that and spend more time appreciating the experience. I’m not saying that you have to stop and take pictures of everything that you ever cook or eat in your entire life, but I am sure you can find some middle ground between that and what you’re doing now. Maybe instead of eating as fast as possible while you’re sitting at your desk at work, you can take that 10 extra minutes and go sit in the break room.Even if you just take a moment to consciously appreciate the food and the nourishment that you are providing for yourself, it helps to shift your mind to a more positive place before you start eating. You can put a little energy into making your meal look appealing, even if it’s just leftovers.This does not require fancy arrangements, china plates or gold-plated silverware. Maybe just getting a reusable lunch bag in a pattern you like or a special glass for your drink is enough to elevate the experience for you.
f you’re cooking a dish, try not to think of it as just a hassle or chore. Listen to the sounds of the kitchen: a boiling pot or the sizzle and pop of hot oil in a pan. Take time to smell the different ingredients and watch them change as you interact with them—things like cutting, heating, roasting, seasoning. Appreciate the fact that you are creating something nourishing for yourself and your loved ones. Try to enjoy it as often as you can. I know I’m going to try to as well.