Go Beyond Your Taste Buds With A New Sensual Approach To Cooking

Former mbg Deputy Editor By Elizabeth Inglese
Former mbg Deputy Editor
Elizabeth Inglese is a writer living in San Fransisco, California. She earned her bachelor’s in english literature and cultures from Brown University and her master's in writing from The University of Southern California. She's the former Deputy Editor of mbg, and has also worked for Vogue, Architectural Digest, Bon Appetit, and Good Magazine covering food, health, and culture.

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Taste—it's the primary sense we associate with the pleasures of eating. But we experience food with all five of our senses. Deepen your appreciation for your next meal by considering the way each of our senses contributes to our sense of satiation. Challenge yourself in the kitchen to cook not just for taste but for touch, sound, scent, and sight, too.


If you've ever snapped a fresh carrot in half you've experienced the pleasure that sound can add to a meal. To open your ears to this subtle element of eating, turn down your music and hush your voice, and let yourself be lulled by the dull strokes of a chef's knife against a wood block, the rustling of leafy greens under the faucet, the sputtering of a pot of sauce. You'll awaken your appetite and enjoy the timeless pleasure of cooking.

Try it out: On Sunday, carve out some time just for you in the kitchen. Make sure you're unhurried, then begin your meal prepping, focusing on each element of the experience to make it as meditative as possible. Think about the cues you can take from sound alone—can you tell when the water is simmering or when the onions have begun to soften? You'll end up calmer, more in touch with your food, and ready for a healthy week, a win-win if we ever heard it!

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Pinch your nose and take a bite of your favorite food. It's remarkable how integral our sense of smell is to our experience of flavors. Research has suggested as much as 75 to 95 percent of taste is registered in the olfactory system. So when you're cooking, consider your foods' scent as much as you do its flavor. Rosewater, which has a nearly imperceptible flavor but a famously strong aroma, can add depth and complexity, transforming desserts from standard sweets to sophisticated indulgences. Toasting nuts, zesting citrus rinds, and pulverizing herbs are simple steps that will invigorate your dishes. And take a note from restaurateurs—always ensure your tabletop candlesticks are unscented.

Try it out: This pistachio rose chia pudding will kick your day off right. Before you have your first bite, take a moment to inhale deeply. After you eat, reflect on how the perception of scent affected your experience. Do you feel calmer? More satiated?


Food is physical and flexible in form. Consider the transformation of cacao from stone-like bean to a rough chalk to a fine powder to a glossy bar to dripping fondue. The form of our food affects its flavor immensely. Don't believe me? Put your Thanksgiving meal in the blender and tell me it tastes as good as it did before. As you compose a dish, consider the myriad ways you can prepare each ingredient. A chickpea can be roasted to a crunch, stewed soft, or pureed silky. Varying the textures within a single dish will improve it every time. To a bowl of steaming soup, add toasted nuts and leaves of fresh herbs. The play of textures will keep you digging in for more.

Try it out: Make this green detox soup and take a bite before and after you add the crispy kale on top. Consider how the additional texture plays a role in your overall satisfaction.

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As the saying goes, we eat first with our eyes, so let that drive guide you when you're building your next meal. Choosing a rainbow of fresh fruit and vegetables not only make your plate look camera-ready, but it signals to the brain the abundance of diverse vitamins and minerals each ingredient holds. A bowl of overflowing, vibrant colors will entice even a picky eater to dive in. Arrange your hues with artistry. You don't need to be hosting a dinner party to plate a dish with care. Even if you're about to scarf down a prework Monday smoothie, take a little extra time to top it with stripes of brightly colored toppings and you'll find yourself more full and satisfied

Try it out: Make a cauliflower pizza base and then get creative with your toppings. The crust is your canvas, and you are the artist, so create something that appeals to your eyes as much as your belly. Take a moment to reflect on how that changes your experience eating it.

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