Looks count!

No, it’s not about appearance. But there’s no denying it, it always helps to look nice. It’s supposed to take less than a second for you to decide if you are attracted to that person or not. My definition of good looks in a person is a wholesome feel. Regardless the age, if she/he has a glow in the skin and hair and more importantly if there is a lively sparkle.

Enjoy Food With Your Eyes

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In the same way, if the food looks good it’s more appealing and enjoyable. Food presentation was as important as the taste for my late mother. In order to create one meal, quite a few different small plates and bowls were used. The food, crockery, placemats, cups and flowers on the table were effortlessly but aesthetically chosen to please the eyes. I emphasise ‘effortlessly’ because it wasn’t a chore but part of her enjoyment. Her philosophy was reflected in my daily lunchboxes she made for me to take to school. It’s a pity that we didn’t have digital cameras or the internet in those days (I’m a bit older than most of you, remember!). If we did, I have no doubt she would have been a popular Instagrammer or a food blogger. Her lunchboxes were always filled with many different kinds of foods with all the essential nutrients.

Colour Basics

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She was not a registered dietitian or a trained nutritionist but just knew that incorporating many different colors of fruits and vegetables (in season ideally) in our diet helps ensure we get different vitamins and minerals. Years later when I was studying nutrition at the University of Surrey, I could scientifically prove that it’s true as different pigments in fruits and vegetables represent different nutrients.

Don’t worry about remembering the different names of vitamins and minerals. As a rule of thumb just add as many different colours as possible. Ideally rainbow colours, but it’s not always practical. My ‘basic’ colours are like this: Brown/White = carbs such as rice, pasta and soba noodles; Red = strong antioxidants such as red pepper and tomatoes; Yellow = in my case it represents protein sources such as chicken and eggs; lastly a very important colour! Green! = again strong antioxidants and packed with vitamins, in some cases, such as green leafy vegetables, also iron. Even adding a small teaspoonful of fresh herbs does wonder.

Recovery Aid

When I moved to the U.K. in 1995, food presentation was not one of the priorities in most households, let alone in hospitals. I have known one elderly lady from South East Asia who refused to eat hospital food because she was completely discouraged by the presentation of food. This was quite a few years back. Since then there have been positive changes in households and even in hospitals. Widely beloved Great British Bake Off showed how lovely the Brit delicacy could be as well. It really does make sense. Appealing (provided it’s nutritious) food enhances appetite, hence helps quick recovery. Good for the ever-struggling health budget. Good for the nation. A win-win situation!

A Little Tip

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I mentioned crockery, placemats and other tableware earlier. Just like when you are choosing your bag and shoes to go with your clothes, being mindful when choosing a plate has a big impact on the overall looks of the food. White fish & white rice on a white plate is a BIG NO!!! (I am almost shouting!). In fact, this was one of the first meals my husband prepared for me. He is a great cook but the poor presentation hugely compromised the taste. I quickly rearranged the food on a blue plate and garnished with parsley and baby tomatoes. Instantly it looked so much more palatable! FYI my husband has become mindful of the colour combination ever since.

We see the food before tasting it, and first impressions last. Coordinate the colours of foods and match dishes, and even a simple meal can be more beautiful, healthier, much happier and even tastier. So go for it, this is a fun way to explore your creative side and bring more colour into your days!

Chiaki Mackie

Chiaki is a Japanese nutritionist living in the southeast of England with her husband. She enjoys a morning routine of brisk walking or running in the countryside followed by a healthy breakfast.

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