Do you perform any rituals before you eat certain foods? This could be something as elaborate as a dance across the living room with socks on your hands pre-oatmeal, or something as simple as tapping your fork against the plate before digging into spaghetti. If you do practice such routine, you probably think of it as inconsequential, not something that directly affects the meal you’re about to eat, simply a personal quirk that feels right to you, for whatever reason. As it turns out, individual rituals performed before the act of eating have been shown to actually improve the taste of the food you’re about to consume.
Research carried out at The University of Minnesota and Harvard University found that people enjoyed both chocolate and carrots more if they performed seemingly unrelated rituals before eating the food, like knocking on a table or breaking the chocolate in half. The idea here is that these personal routines help us to savor the food we eat. It almost seems like such rituals can create a sort of intimacy with the food, a sort of relationship that enhances our ability to enjoy it. Almost like performing the ritual refreshes our own sense of ourselves; we are not just a person consuming calories, we are our own individual selves, sitting there with all of our idiosyncrasies, eating a meal the way only we would. It’s a nice thought, and one that can be applied, I think, in a more general sense, deeming life as something that we can get the most out of by being fully who we are. My apologies for steering this train into a hallmark store, but how often do you get the chance to discuss the taste of food philosophically?
And since the focus here isn’t so much orbiting the idea of you are what you eat as it is you are how you eat, another encouraging aspect to be found in the news is the potential it has to help us enjoy and get in the habit of eating healthier food. I know for myself, one of the hardest things about eating more organically is the habit I’m in of buying specific products at the grocery store over and over. It’s like a reflex, a signal in my brain that clicks on as I walk into Safeway. Go here, then here, then over there. Select this, this, and that. Checkout. Even though each trip to the store is an individual one in which I could purchase anything, there’s a lock on my brain called habit. Establishing new rituals, one in which we go for the healthiest options possible for our budget, is something quite difficult at first, but if we can break past the initial otherness of it all, then perhaps we can start enjoying eating healthy more and more, until it’s a bright and shining part of our culinary selves, one that was waiting there all along. Just make sure to do something ritualistic before you actually get to eating it. Think about it. Get creative. Make sure it’s you. Then bite, chew, swallow.
The question must be asked: do you perform any rituals before eating? Share below if you feel so compelled. The weirder the better.