Imagine a world where your food and drinks didn't come wrapped in marketing information, Nutrition Facts tables, ingredient lists and health claims. How would you choose what to eat and drink?
Choosing and eating food is an experience that draws upon all our senses. 'Sensual nutrition' and 'sensual eating' are terms used to describe an approach to healthy eating where we're more aware of the messages our bodies give us, like hunger and fullness and use our senses to help select food that is both delicious and nourishing.Healthy eating must be delicious if we expect to make it a lifelong habit. So what happens when we allow our eyes, ears, nose and tongue to do the choosing?
- Fresher food looks better and is usually more nutritious and safer to eat.
- Colour delights. Choose a rainbow of colours in the produce department. The colours are plant chemicals (phytochemicals) that promote health.
- Presentation can make all the difference. If it doesn't look delicious we may not even try it.
- Ripe fruit and vegetables have the most appealing scent and are also at their most nutritious state.
- Ground spices and fresh herbs add flavour to food largely by improving the smell. They also add more flavour without extra salt (sodium).
- Fresh vegetables are crisp and have a satisfying crunch.
- Whole nuts and seeds add a pleasing crunch to many dishes and add nutrition.
- The mouth puckering sensation of citrus or the burn of chili peppers liven up a meal without adding salt (sodium).
- Having a hard time finding which fruits are ripe? Apply a small amount of pressure to avocadoes and melons and select ones that have a little 'give' to them.
- Juicy fruit feels heavy for its size.
- Fresh and simply prepared food tastes great without a lot of extra salt, sugar or fat.
- Fruit based desserts taste sweet but also provide essential nutrients.
An example of sensual nutrition at work is when a sauce or dip makes plain but nutritious food, like broccoli, more appealing by adding taste, texture, smell and visual appeal. If you want your kids to eat more vegetables, appeal to their sensual side and serve them with a delicious dip.
Sensual nutrition can encourage us to focus on food quality over food quantity. At the grocery store, sensual nutrition may help us to trust our senses while shopping and encourage us to focus on whole and fresh foods, seasonal food, and unpackaged food.
Finally, what's more sensual than cooking and eating together? Sensual nutrition encourages people to get in the kitchen and get personal with their food. Cooking by yourself can be a chore, but with family or friends it can be a delight that benefits both your physical and mental health.
So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and get sensual with your nutrition.