Palate Psychology - Food As A Form Of Self Care
Image Credit: Enjoy your time eating and cooking

The internet is awash with articles about how food — the cooking of it and the eating of it — can be an act of self care. Of course, there's a privilege implicit in all this advice: the assumption that you have the luxury of choice. That you aren't duty-bound to cook for a family, and that you don't have to worry about providing for the requisite quality and quantity of what you feed yourself and others. That you can think of food as something other than subsistence. Those caveats aside, food as an act of self care is simple, profound and revolutionary. 

Making time to eat is an act of self advocacy

The tendency to put off meals to accommodate that meeting or a pressing deadline is increasingly familiar to us. So much so that we don't even think it's out of the ordinary. But delaying your meals, not following scheduled times, or not eating when you're hungry can spiral beyond the moment.  When you finally do eat, you're less likely to make healthy choices about food, more likely to overeat and are generally doing your body a huge disservice. Similarly, eating mindlessly — while watching television or browsing your phone or staring at your laptop screen — isn't efficacious.

Pausing your other activities, savouring each morsel of food, focusing on how it makes you feel, can make the act of eating something more than mechanical. It then becomes the sensory, nourishing experience it is meant to be.

There's comfort in food

Beyond ingredients and setting and context, our emotions determine how we receive food. While the Diet Industrial Complex has successfully shamed people for reaching for comfort food — especially if said comfort food was composed of refined carbs and sugar — in recent years, there's been a shift towards "owning" one's indulgences as practicing self compassion. If ice cream can make you feel better on a bad day, what is gained by withholding it from yourself? 

Like with anything else, balance is key. The occasional comfort food binge shouldn't be treated as a setback. At the same time, think about food that is good for your body and shift your goal posts towards the long term. What is the food that your body and mind will thank you for a few years down the line? Gravitate towards those choices and frame it as an act of watching out for yourself.

Prioritise cooking for yourself

Set time aside to cook for yourself | Unsplash


How often have you invested significant time and labour in preparing a meal for someone else when eating together, but merely cobbled together whatever is at hand for yours when dining solo?

We tend to be our own lowest priorities when it comes to preparing food. Whether it's chopping up colourful fruits and vegetables for your bowl, or ensuring the tadka for the dal has all the flavours you enjoy, setting time aside to prepare your meals is one of the most important gifts you can give yourself.

Give thanks

Most religions and cultures have a custom of saying a small prayer of thanks before tucking into a meal. You can follow a secular practice as well, like the Japanese do, where they say “Itadakimasu” and only then pick up their chopsticks. It translates into “I humbly receive”, a phrase and sentiment that expresses gratitude for the journey the food has undertaken before reaching your plate.