Understanding Emotions
Through the Sense of Taste

by May Bleeker, updated 24 Feb 2022

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. Download the free worksheet for the back-to-front version and answer the questions.

1) Understanding Emotions Through Taste - Straight Way Up

For this version of the exercise you need:

  • The Understanding Emotions Through Taste Worksheet (downloadable PDF - updated version, please refresh your browser if it doesn't automatically download)
  • Something to write with
  • 30 minutes (15 minutes for the exercise, 15 minutes for discussion or reflection)
  • Your imagination and memory

1. First choose the emotion you want to explore.

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

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

For the 'back-to-front' version of the exercise you need:

1. Is there a particular taste you like or detest? Use this as a starting point.

2. Allow the worksheet questions to guide your exploration of the thoughts, memories and emotions you associate with that taste.

Pay attention to the connections you find between thoughts, things and feelings. These can often give a deeper understanding of your personal emotional experience.

Enjoy the process!


Do you have feedback on these worksheets? Or would you like to see more worksheets of this kind? If yes, let me know.


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

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