Coloured food in Malaysia

posted in: Beliefs, Personal | 0

This is always fun and ever so often, I fall for it – coloured food, of whatever colour.

A buffet in Malaysia. Or one of its many public holidays and celebrations. And there it is. The piece of food that somehow stands out. It is red, or green or pink or yellow. A weird colour for my food.

It always appears to me that apparently, my taste buds have not changed the way they perceive food. I don’t mind the spicy food and curry, in fact, I really enjoy it and find “normal” Western food “boring” (sorry to my Western readers). Okay, nothing against a good steak, or some MacDonalds every now and then, but this is not what I am talking about.

So here we go, standing in line and I realise this strange looking piece of food in front of me. Now my taste buds align immediately according to my thought structure. Somehow, and sometimes, they expect something sweet when the food is sour or spicy. Or they expect it to be spicy and then experience the sensation of sweetness.

Interesting, and always surprising, haha!

But clearly, the way food looks has an impact on our willingness to eat it. Just imagine a rodden piece of steak, haha. Seriously, this is also the reason why gourmet restaurants want to design the food that you get served, because somehow, it raises your expectation of taste. The better it looks, the more you expect to taste it well. This is also the reason why food manufacturers desparately try to change and introduce different colours to the food menu. Oftentimes, they do it to stand out from the crowd and once they succeed, they have successfully repositioned their company from the usual crowd. And, have you realised, that at least in Malaysia, there is now more and more colourful food available in the supermarkets. Sometimes, they might be enhanced with preservatives, as mentioned in recent publications.

“In his book Fast Food Nation, journalist Eric Schlosser mentions a study conducted in the 1970s that found the color of food had a great effect on people’s appetites. Test subjects were placed in a room with special colored lighting installed, and then given a plate of steak and French fries to eat. In that setting, the food appeared to be a normal color, but when it was revealed that the steak was blue-colored and the fries were green, some participants became ill.

This reaction can be attributed to our instinctual aversion to certain colors of food, blue and purple chief among them. Since these colors don’t occur very often in natural foods, and in fact are sometimes associated with spoiled, moldy food, we have an expectation that foods of this color won’t taste very good or will be bad for us.” (Interesting Thing of the Day)

The exceptions and confusion to this rule is Malaysian food, of course.

I still enjoy the different types of food and the experience of different colours. It is a surprise and always reminds me not to take too granted what I expect to see. Now, is that a mental stretch?


Andreas is the founder of Asia Mind Dynamics and a certified trainer of internationally recognised certification programmes:

  • Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) with the American Board of Neuro Linguistic Programming (ABNLP),
  • NLP Coach Training with the Coaching Division of ABNLP,
  • The Words That Change Minds -Language and Behaviour Profile of which he also is one of 17 Global Master Trainers
  • Creating Your Future Coaching™ Techniques at the Masters Level with the International Timeline Therapy Association
  • Hypnosis with the American Board of Hypnotherapy (ABH)
  • Master Trainer with the International Association of Counsellors and Therapists (IACT).

We also train companies to achieve higher performance especially through our signature programmes on Leadership, Sales and Advanced Communications.

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