Our memories of our past eating experiences play a big part in influencing and shaping our food preferences as well as how much we eat.
Moreover, the emotions we associate to these memories are linked to our attitudes toward foods and our everyday food-related behaviours.
Most of us have a memory of a food that takes us back to childhood. It can be as mundane as a bar of chocolate or a lollipop that we used to get as a treat during our youth, or more involved such as recalling your first breakup and you spent the afternoon devouring the tub of ice cream with a friend.
No matter the importance, memories involving food are intense― and they sometimes feel more evocative and meaningful than other types of memories.
Taking this idea one step further, some researchers have suggested that food choices and meals paint the picture of who we are and how our lives have developed. Our food habits and customs are learnt, our meals and food dishes are an expression of our inner selves and a recreation very often, of our inner needs and desires.
If you take a moment to think back to when you were a child, and the emotional associations you have to dinnertime for example, what kinds of memories come up?
What kinds of feelings are triggered? Who do you think of and how do you think of them?
And how have these memories and ultimately the feelings associated with them, influenced you today, in how you are at dinner time? Are your dinner times, a time of sharing and laughing? Or are they tense, quiet and rushed?
Your food memories can sustain and influence your psychological as well as your physical well-being. Your food memories influence your eating behaviours in more ways than you might give credit. Our food nostalgia moulds our paths as eaters further into the future than any of us really expect, and none more than that first taste.