What is your food language? Do you think each of us has a primary food language in the same way we have a primary love language? Why not? Anthropologists study the way language and food intersect, positing that food and its uses provide setting and structure for language.
I feel like we could develop a questionnaire that could indicate a primary food language. Perhaps we would use that language to guide our choice of dining companions. Perhaps we would use it to encourage healthier diets for our children. Perhaps we could use it to improve compliance with medically beneficial eating plans or prevent/treat eating disorders.
If we were going to design such a test, what would we look for?
Mind you, I’m not going to be incredibly scientific or statistical about this. It’s more a flight of fancy, and since that seems to be where my mind is determined to go this morning, I’m going to run with it. If I don’t, I’ll just be fighting myself (some people call that writer’s block).
So, back to our questionnaire. How about some questions like these, followed by multiple choice answers?
In what way do you associate food with conversation?
How often are you able to feel the hunger in your body?
How do you feel most often when you prepare a meal?
How do you feel most often when you order a meal from a restaurant?
If you reach for a snack between meals, what is the reason?
What foods do you choose when no one is watching?
How does the quantity of food you consume change when you’re alone?
In what way do your feelings change after a meal?
How does the temperature of food affect its appeal?
How does the texture of food affect its appeal?
What words would you use to describe a meal you enjoyed?
What words would you use to describe a meal you did not enjoy?
What sort of lighting enhances the flavor of a meal?
What sort of sound enhances the flavor of a meal?
How do you pair flavors?
How often do you think of food when it is not mealtime?
How do you feel when the pantry is full?
How do you feel when the pantry is empty?
How often do you buy kitchen tools you do not use?
These questions may be a good beginning or others might serve better. And multiple choice answers must be carefully chosen to give us an accurate picture of what they indicate. One way to hone the questions and answers is through research.
Research studies often begin with curious flights of fancy. Mine could lead to identifying food languages. Yours could lead to something even more significant. Even if you’re not a researcher, there are ways to contribute ideas to the research community. Colleges and universities, medical schools, and nonprofits in your community are great places to find opportunities.
And if you’d rather do than imagine, you can volunteer to be a research subject. In college, I participated in an exercise study measuring the effectiveness of isokinetic workouts. A few years ago, I participated in a study surveying attitudes toward cybersecurity.
Whether or not today’s flight of fancy leads you toward research participation, hopefully it will encourage you to explore your internal food dialogue. You may discover you have a well-defined food language just waiting to be discovered.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”