When it comes to your meals, what do you do to makes them special? I’ll bet if I asked you what you ate for lunch two days ago, chances are pretty good that you can’t remember. Maybe you worked through lunch and ate at your desk, or picked at some leftovers from the refrigerator. Or you were so caught up in your favorite television show that you scarcely noticed what was on your plate. On the other hand, if I asked you to recall a special meal you’ve had lately—not even a holiday or birthday meal, just what you’d call a ‘nice meal’—you can probably recall that meal in great detail. And it’s likely that it was more than just the food that made that meal memorable. It’s the little things, too, that make meals more special—and more satisfying.
Aside from the food, what makes a meal memorable? Maybe it was your dining companions. Maybe, instead of shoveling it down, you lingered and talked over a meal. Maybe it was the way the food was presented on the plate, or the shiny silverware, or the slice of lemon in your ice water. Or it could have been the cool jazz playing, or the candlelight, the crisp linens or the sprig of fresh green basil nestled next to the grilled fish.
All our senses are involved when we eat. When a plate of food is appealing to the eye, has a wonderful aroma, and a variety of flavors and textures, we take note. And we usually rate those meals as not only more pleasant but more satisfying, too.
If your eating has become routine—and your meals look the same, day after day—that could spell trouble. In an attempt to get more satisfied, you may find yourself eating more but enjoying it less.
So, why not try making meals little more special?
It doesn’t take much. Turn off the television and listen to some music. Throw a tablecloth on the table, grab a cloth napkin and maybe light a candle or two. Having leftovers? Try putting them on a plate rather than eating them out of a plastic container.
And try a little accessorizing. A ripe red strawberry on top of a protein shake would brighten anyone’s day; a shower of fresh chopped parsley on top of your grilled chicken or fish takes it from drab to delightful.
By Susan Bowerman, M.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Senior Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training