How Colour Makes Eating A More Positive Experience
There’s a lot of talk about how adding colour to meals can lead to a healthier relationship with food, but it doesn’t have to stop with what’s put on the plate. Research has shown that adding colour in other ways can also help develop a more positive relationship with foods and the entire dining experience. So while a fridge full of fruit and veggies is a great place to start, here are some of the other ways colour can be used to brighten up meals.
Adding visual appeal to meals
The way food is presented and the amount of colour present has a huge impact on both appetites and attitudes. Researchers at Cornell University in the US, for example, have actually found that children like six different colours on their plates, while adults prefer up to three colours. “Compared with adults, children not only prefer plates with more elements and colours, but also their entrees placed in the front of the plate and with figurative designs,” co-author of the study, Professor Brian Wansink, concluded. "Unfortunately, when we parents plate food for kids, we do it in a way that is appealing to us and not to them.” But if including six different coloured foods in every meal sounds like a struggle, there are other ways to add colour and interest so that kids enjoy what they are eating. Professor Wansink suggests preparing food in a range of shapes or using plates and other dishes that are brightly coloured or include interesting imagery that will visually engage children and make them more likely to eat what’s on the plate.
Bringing interest to the table
If it is a struggle to get everyone to sit down to a meal together, adding colour to the table can be a way to engage people before any food is served. According to research from the US National Childcare Accreditation Council (NCAC), everything from the choice of furniture to the plates and cutlery has an affect on moods around mealtime. “The arrangement of furniture and setting of tables can affect how relaxed meal times will be,” it says, suggesting the use of individual placemats, vases and tablecloths to make dining areas more appealing. Other ways to add colour and interest could include different coloured serving ware, cutlery, bowls and plates. Laying out set of plates from the Education on a Plate range, for example, could get kids to come to the table well before any food is there, and may even engage older family members too.
Making food more fun for everyone
Colour affects everything from appetites and ambience to moods and productivity, with a report from Psychology Today even suggesting its “powerful influence” is responsible for “our choices in everything from the food we eat and the clothes we wear to the cars we buy.” That also means the benefits of using colour at mealtimes can actually start in the kitchen. As well as making use of a variety of foods, choosing plates, bowls and cutlery in your favourite colours could make preparing meals a much more enjoyable experience – and could even get the kids involved. Whether the biggest challenge is getting food made, setting and clearing the table or taking the time to enjoy making a meal, something as simple as colour could be a big part of the solution. And just as there is a rainbow of colours to use, there is a wide range of ways it can be included in the eating experience. How do you bring colour to mealtimes? What are your favourite ways to add brightness to the table? Please share your thoughts with us below.