Do We Eat With Our Eyes?
Is there truth to the expression 'you eat with your eyes?'
Yes, 100% yes. How a food looks is one of the first sensory criteria that we use to make decisions about the foods we eat. In Understanding Food Principles and Preparation (Wadsworth 2008), author Amy Brown Ph.D., R.D. begins her textbook with this topic as it lays the foundation for food selection. Whether it’s consciously or subconsciously, we use our five senses to obtain essential food information. The sight, odour, taste and even the sound of food all factor in one’s decision to choose to eat a certain food.
Let’s think about the sight of food. The expression 'eat with your eyes' is certainly true because when a dish is visually appealing, it’s more appetising. A rotisserie-roasted chicken makes your mouth water more than a pale poached chicken breast. A salad made with colourful leafy greens, red peppers and carrots is more attractive than a bowl of plain iceberg lettuce. The shape and consistency of the food is something that we also see. Bite size is often more appealing (that why you eat more hors d’ oeuvres than you should at a party) and looking at inferior consistency is unacceptable (think runny scrambled eggs). We also look at portion size and make the decision if we will be satisfied, hungry or stuffed before we even take the first bite. Along with sight, odour is another factor in determining our food choice. Hot foods are more aromatic than cold foods because heat causes compounds in the foods to become more volatile (like a gas). The nasal cells can detect them easily and send a message to the brain that there are warm baked chocolate chip cookies coming out of the oven.
As many of us have experienced, eating with your eyes can be misleading. There are times I have regretted eating a fancy dessert because it really didn’t taste as good as it looked. Taste is probably the most complex of all the senses when it comes to food selection, and it’s by far the most influential. The process relies on saliva to dissolve the food. When the taste buds, located in the mouth and on the tongue, are exposed to the saliva and food mixture, they send a message to the brain and we recognise the different tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, salty and savoury). Unfortunately, as you age your taste buds decrease in number, so you may find yourself using a bit more sugar and salt. Additionally, if saliva production is diminished due to aging or medication, taste will also affected. Interestingly, food temperature also alters taste. Try these experiments: 1. Compare and taste hard ice cream right out of the freezer with the same ice cream that is semi-melted and notice if they differ in sweetness. 2. Try a taste of cheddar cheese at room temperature and compare it to one that’s right out of the refrigerator. Which has more cheese flavour?
Finally, our sense of hearing influences our food desires. A pan of sizzling bacon, the crunch of potato chips and the fizz of a soda are sounds that draw us to those foods. It’s wise to consider the five senses when you are making food selections because it makes us more mindful of what we put in our mouths and helps us enjoy what we are eating. It’s true that food choices may start with eating with your eyes but just be careful that 'your eyes aren’t bigger than your stomach' hahahaha.
For this gorgeous and vibrant, eat with your eyes green shake, you will need:
1 cup Kale
1/2 cup Baby Spinach
1 cup fresh Pineapple
1 cup frozen Mango
Sprinkle with raw pumpkin seeds for a little extra eye candy.