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Eating with your eyes closed: Our senses sit down to dinner

14 June, 2019
Inspiration

Our eyes can process 36.000 bits of information every hour, many messages for our brain to connect with the world around us. And live without that can be very hard. We often say that you eat with your five senses so… what happens if we eat with our eyes closed? Would we enjoy food in the same way?

Taste with all your body

Smell and taste are our best friends when we talk about eating. But they are also connected to many of our memories since we were children. Do you remember the smell of your grandmother’s kitchen on a Sunday morning?

The first taste we can recognize is sweet, located in the front of our tongue. Then salty, sour and, in the very end, bitter. And we also have the new umami flavor, right in the center of the muscle. Recent studies say, though, this map of our tongue could be wrong but there are no firm conclusions yet.

Taste begins to work when we eat, but so does smell. This sense influences taste and can even suppress it. And smell sends information to the real hero and translator for all these feelings: the brain.

Eating with your eyes closed

Since 2008 many restaurants offer to eat meals with your eyes blindfolded. A unique experience to “reconnect with food” in a different way. And even to re-discover the pleasure of eating. The lack of senses like sight helps us to focus on what we are dining but, does it really tastes different? Those who take the challenge say the taste of many meals and recipes becomes more intense. And it turns into a game, living a completely different eating experience.

Playing with these feelings is possible from our home or even right now. If we think about a lemon, our brain sends orders to mouth to salivate, as a natural reaction to the acid flavor of the fruit. So it happens if we smell a BBQ in the backyard of a neighbor: you probably wish a burger badly.

Eating eyes closed

If we see one of our favorite dishes poorly arranged on a plate, we probably find it less desirable. But if we eat it with blindfolded, would it make a difference? Several studies pointed out that everyday context may vary our perception of flavor. When we are flying, the taste of food changes. And we are not talking about how bad airplane meals can be. Science says taste and smell are almost gone when we are on board. The perception of sweetness and saltiness drops in a pressurized atmosphere. So maybe we have been blaming airlines for too long.

Thinking about eating less? This may help

Eating with our eyes closed can make us think we are eating more than we actually are. A 2016 German study gave ice-cream to several students. Part of them were blindfolded and ate fewer before they were full then the students who could see. Even though this can not be a definite way to weight loss, meals can be funnier, that for sure.

Enjoy with your five senses

Eating eyes closed

Sight may be an influence when we have to choose what to eat or not or even how much. We will probably eat more in a comfortable, cozy restaurant than in front of our computer at work. Color and presentation of our food matters too. Supermarkets usually arrange fruits, vegetables, and other kind of products with vibrant colors at eye level, to make them look more attractive to consumers. In many cases, that means that stores add artificial colors and flavors to food to make the goods look better. But that does not mean they are more healthy at all.

Are any other senses involved when we eat? Yes, definitely. Every time we have a cold we can hardly taste what is in our mouth. So it happens when we poke with a fork a piece of food with a weird texture: our sense of touch probably says to our brain that food is not going to taste very well. And if we listening to a chef telling us how wonderful the recipe of that fish and chips is, we will probably think it’s the best fast food we have had so far. In the end, everything is important for the complete enjoyment of a meal.

Cooking is an art and eating is a multi-sensory experience, so it is a privilege to enjoy food in many ways. And we can enjoy meals not only at restaurants but also cooking at home and sharing those moments with the ones we love.

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