Eating with Our Eyes
Over the past few years, as I’ve started watching the Food Network and developing into a bit of a foodie, I’ve become familiar with the expression, “We eat first with our eyes.” Seeing how the famous chefs present some of their food, and experiencing it first-hand in some fancy restaurants, I could understand the appeal of that. But for some reason I never quite internalized the idea for home use when I was the only one eating. Even when I first took the Am I Hungry? (AIH) Mindful Eating facilitator training and read the part about how we should make a pleasant atmosphere for ourselves, I have to confess that I didn’t think that using nice dishes mattered all that much. Mine weren’t hideous or anything, but they were definitely generic, mass-produced plates and bowls, primarily white. I did have one nice pottery mug and bowl, but that was about it. When I recently taught the AIH workshop, though, I felt a bit like a hypocrite, saying that these things mattered but not doing them myself. So the following weekend, when I was at an art gallery and a pottery plate caught my eye, I bought it. I wanted to see if it would make a difference in how I ate.
I was surprised to discover that it did. By putting my food on this pretty plate, I found that I spent more time eating first with my eyes because it was so attractive. This in turn led me to eating more slowly and mindfully, because between bites I admired the way everything looked. I took smaller bites, wanting to keep everything nicely artistic. I also paid more attention to the smell, since I was more tempted me to linger over it a little longer before eating.
For instance, eggs look positively gorgeous against the blue background. Salad greens are beautiful with the earthy tones. In fact, everything seems to go with it, in brilliant contrast or complement. The pattern also makes me want to present the food in the most attractive or fun way, such as arranging browned sausage slices in a circle, following the plates design.
I’m now a believer. It does matter how your food looks and is presented, at home or in a restaurant. I’ve always appreciated beautiful things, especially when they’re also functional. Now I can indulge that on a daily basis and get the most out of both my pottery and my meals.