Understanding Emotions
Through the Sense of Taste

by May Bleeker, 3 July 2012 (updated 17 January 2013)

Understanding emotions can be tricky, so using the five senses is an interesting way to access information about your feelings that may not otherwise come into your awareness.

The sense of taste can evoke all sorts of images and memories. Who can remember the taste of certain foods without also recalling their associations?

For me - the taste of warm, sweet figs and peaches will always be linked to summer holidays, our one acre backyard, and the mixed feelings I had growing up in a small town called Villiersdorp.

I cannot eat a fig or a peach without remembering that place. The smell of things, the hot days, the fuzziness of the peaches. The bitter, sticky white sap from the stems of the figs that would get onto my fingers. The way the garden looked. And with it all, the way things felt. Some happy feelings. Some sad.

In a similar way, memories and associations connected to your sense of taste may open up many avenues of thought regarding specific emotions.

If you have a particular emotion you want to explore, use the exercises below to deepen your self awareness and self acceptance - both qualities of positive self esteem.

There are two ways of approaching this exercise:

1) Straight Way Up:

Start with the emotion you want to explore. Download the free worksheet given below and then think about and answer the questions.

2) Back to Front: 

Is there a particular taste you like? (Or detest?) Start with that instead. Follow the instructions given below.

If you'd like a printable pdf worksheet for the Back to Front version as well, send me a note.

1) Understanding Emotions Through Taste - Straight Way Up

For this version of the exercise you need:

1. First choose the emotion you want to explore.

2. Then think about it in terms of the five basic tastes:

Sweet
Sour
Bitter
Salty
Umami (savoury)

3. Allow the worksheet questions to guide your exploration - but don't stop there!

If there are any associations that come up spontaneously write them down. Any images, people, things or events that remind you of that taste/feeling combination can give you deeper insight into your feelings.

2) Understanding Emotions Through Taste - Back to Front

There is no downloadable worksheet for the 'Back to Front' version (yet). If you want one, let me know.

For this version of the exercise you need:

  • A pen and some paper
  • Your imagination and memory

1. Is there a particular taste you like? Or one you can't stand?

Use this as the starting point.

2. Answer the questions below as quickly as you can.

Where did you first taste this?

What were you doing at the time?

What was it like then and there?

How did it make you feel?

Was anyone else with you at the time?

Were you happy with that, or did it bother you at all?

Do you associate this taste with anyone in particular? Or any event?

When you think back to the time you first tasted that taste, what is the overall (strongest) emotion you associate with that time?

When you think about your life now, in what other circumstances, or at what other times, do you sometimes feel this emotion?

Any connections?

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Would you like a downloadable pdf worksheet for the Back to Front version of the exercise? If yes, let me know.


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Return from Understanding Emotions through Taste to
5 Ways to Explore Emotions

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