Positive food experiences do not only apply to the culinary world. Positive food experiences and life success go hand in hand through developing good habits. The principles learned in creating positive food experiences also apply outside the kitchen.
A food experience does not include just the food. It includes friends and family interactions and bonding. It includes fun and enjoyment. Food, however, is a vital part of the overall experience.
Associating food with positive things, and experiencing food in a positive light, helps to develop more than just a memory. It helps you to respect food and what it does for you. It also helps in other important aspects of life: planning, organizing, coordinating, goal setting, and achievement.
Think of it as developing relationships with food as the medium. For example, we recently attended a picnic for the July 4th holiday. The hosts planned the event about two weeks in advance. Everyone eagerly anticipated the event, and used their creative energy to plan what tasty treat they would bring. Guests brought a variety of side dishes and desserts. Everyone mingled and caught up on all the happenings. People commented about the food and complimented the cooks with praise and gratitude. Food helped to make people feel social. Food facilitated conversations and the building of relationships.
What are some habits that people use to create positive food experiences?
We identified 8 habits that people use to create positive food experiences in their life. The habits described here are not limited to demographics, geography, or life circumstances. They are available to everyone. They are simple steps that, when used consistently, will yield powerful results in and out of the kitchen.
Understand the Power of Ingredients
Research the benefits of ingredients and food items, and read food labels. Do research via the Internet, library, or other means. Understand what healthy food choices are, and develop within you a desire to make those healthy food choices. Understand how you feel health wise when you eat certain foods.
Be Proactive with Meal Planning
In order to have a positive food experience, you need to create it. It doesn’t just happen randomly. Include breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, etc. Decide what you are going to have in advance. You can plan meals for any timeframe, but planning a week out tends to be the most practical. This helps you to make your grocery list more complete. You can also be efficient with your time in obtaining the food.
Meal planning helps you to be more efficient in the planning and execution of positive food experiences. By doing meal planning regularly, and taking into account special requests, dietary needs, budget, and a host of other factors (see the article, Meal Planning: A Building Block of Positive Food Experiences), you can create tasty nutritious meals within your budget.
Examine the People Principle
Take into account the people principle (see the article, Principle 2: People – The Pulse of the Food Experience). Consider with whom you are eating, and what the food motivations of those people are.
Surround yourself with positive people: people who encourage you to try new things, and people who focus on the quality and freshness of ingredients.
Create the Environment
Whether you are at home, school, work, on vacation, etc., you can create an environment conducive to positive food experiences. From the noise level, to the décor, to the music, to the seating arrangement (or absence of any of these things), you set the tone for the meal.
Become a Lifelong Learner
Learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom. It happens every day of your life. Learning occurs both formally and informally. In terms of positive food experiences, you can routinely look for new and better ways of doing things. Look up new recipes. Experiment with various cooking techniques. Look up the health benefits of ingredients and food items. Be willing to try different kitchen gadgets, cook with a variety of ingredients, and build your culinary skills.
Teaching and learning go hand in hand. As we teach others, we ourselves learn a topic of study much better than solely studying the topic on our own. You don’t have to be an expert to teach someone. You can impart of your knowledge, and then learn together as you look up additional information.
Set SMART Goals
Use the information you learn to set food experience goals for yourself and your family. Maybe you have a goal to try a new recipe each month, to take a cooking class, or to just understand people when they talk about food. Set SMART goals and work toward their fulfillment:
Document Food Experiences
As you have food experiences from day to day and from week to week, write them down. Whether they are positive or negative (or somewhere in between), you can learn from each one of them. Understanding what worked and why, and where you can improve, helps you to make those adjustments to bring about positive changes to your mealtime experience.
How you feel about the experience is just as important as the experience itself.
Food is a major stimulus – mentally as well as physically. Sometimes people take food out of its context of the bigger picture – of the relationships and other aspects of the experience. When you take the other pieces out, you end up trying to utilize food outside its intended purpose. You then use food as a medium to deal with a lack of relationships, lack of self-esteem, etc.
Many addictions are based on a lack of things in your life that you try to substitute with another thing (drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, etc.). People often try to drown their sorrows or other issues in food. In so doing, not only are they not having a positive food experience, but also they are setting themselves up for a host of physical, mental, and social issues.
It is important to have the other aspects of the food experience, and to associate food with the bigger picture of relationships, interactions, healthy eating, and in being more positive and upbeat as you go through life. It is interesting how one piece (food), taken out of context (relationships, experiences, etc.), can cause bigger problems.
If you are in a good place physically, socially, and mentally, however, food can be such a benefit to the bigger picture. It helps you feel better, it helps you get out more, and it becomes a help instead of a hindrance.
Food can be a beautiful thing if used wisely.
In terms of life success, use food in a healthy manner, and then keep moving forward from there. Try to eat properly and healthy and clean (clean meaning fresh and without a lot of preservatives). Eating properly helps you feel better, be more active, interact and socialize more with friends and family, etc. These things all help you to use food in a more positive manner. Using food in a positive and clean way affects you in many areas of your life. As you try to eat healthier, you become healthier physically, socially, etc.
Creating positive food experiences does not have to be a big involved process. You can start by doing small and simple things such as those described above. It can be as simple as committing to eat healthier.
Keep it healthy. Keep it clean. Make it interactive. Make it fun! Use food as a medium to bring joy, happiness, and success into your life and into the life of those around you.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: What are some other habits you have found as you create positive food experiences?