Everyone has a favorite food, or two, or five, such as: pepperoni pizza, macaroni and cheese, whipped potatoes with butter, apple pie with a side of vanilla ice cream, or milk chocolate. Each food contains a complex array of flavors, textures, and temperatures. Food goes beyond farm to fork, more like farm to brain.
There are five primary flavors: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami; which contribute to thousands of flavor combinations that are detected by scads of taste receptors on your tongue. Your nose also plays an important role in flavor detection and emotional connection with your food. Smells pass through the olfactory bulbs in your nose, and proceeds to the limbic brain area where emotional events are processed. Thus, the thought and/or sight of certain foods can create emotional triggers.
For example, have you ever been in an emotionally charged situation and afterwards craved one of your comfort foods? By recognizing that foods have a deep, emotional connection, particularly during stressful times, you may need to add in more ‘mindfulness’ to your food intake. One slice of pie can easily lead to two or three as the emotional and pleasurable part of your brain is stimulated.
One strategy for consuming a moderate amount of food is to stop before you’re full, which may sound easy, but for many people takes some practice. In Japan, there’s a name for it, “hara hachi bu”, which equates to putting your fork down when your 80 percent full. Stopping before you’re full might feel unnatural, but the good news is you’ll have several chances to practice every day.