my new favorite "instant" meal + the fascinating history of American meals and the rise of "bowl meals" in pop culture

Posted by:Lindsay S. Nixon

Today's post I'm sharing with you the super simple way I've been eating for the last few months...

To my surprise, LOADS of SCIENCE supports eating this way--it'll blow your mind up if you struggle with overeating or feeling "satisfied" after dinner. I can't wait to geek out and share it with you tomorrow :) :) 

TODAY I'm nerding out on some fascinating history around American meals and rise of bowls meals in American pop culture (here's a hint: Thanks Instagram).


Background: I’ve been working to recover from an illness and trauma this past year. 

Knowing that “food is medicine” in every way, I wanted to eat well, but I also didn’t always have also the physical or psychological endurance to “cook.” 

“Bowl meals” became my saving grace. 


Yet for all the good these simple meals did for me, I grappled with deep feelings of shame. 

I often felt “lazy” or like a big fraud... After all, hadn’t I’d authored six cookbooks? Was beans and rice really the best I could do? 

A yoga-teacher friend offered me a new perspective. She said, “You eat like a Buddhist Nun. This is classic Temple Food for enlightenment.”

She also reminded me that I often suggest using the same bowl when someone tells me they struggle with overeating because using the same bowl helps them acclimate to portion sizes and helps them develop a better connection with their bio (metabolic) hunger.

Her comments left me wondering if there was some hidden magic in bowls I didn't know about... Truthfully I was looking for any kind of external validation for my simplistic meals ;) 

I did what I usually do: I hit the science and read every research article, journal, or paper I could find until I exhausted the topic. 


New research suggests that eating out of a bowl is more satisfying than eating off a plate AND has a positive impact on the way you eat. 

There are a few theories and explanations for this.

My favorite is based on the fact we hold bowls and bring them closer towards us, which fosters feelings of comfort and nourishment--a connection that can’t be made by a fork and plate. 

I’m going to dig deep into the science behind the power of bowl meals in tomorrow’s post. 

If you struggle with being satisfied or you tend to overeat like me, you definitely don’t want to miss the research I’m sharing with you tomorrow. 


For today, I want to share with you a historical tidbit that’s fascinating: 

“EEK! MY FOOD IS TOUCHING” (mostly an American invention) 

*The actual name for fear of food touching other food is brumotactillophobia. 

Growing up, I would freak out if my foods touched. TBH, I still somewhat cringe when I see breadcrumbs on butter... 

I thought that was a ‘kid thing’ (or my OCD--which some psychologists say brumotactillophobia is) until I observed children eating in other countries around the world. 

Not only do children in other countries eat a wide range of foods that aren't from the American "kids menu" they overlap and are often mixed together. 

I am also somewhat of a hypocrite--or a conundrum if I feel charitable: I LOVE sauces and dipping food into things (e.g. hummus, ketchup, Ranch dressing), so it couldn’t be a ‘messy’ thing or OCD thing, not completely anyway. 


In most other parts of the world, the bowl is the primary vessel of eating and always has been.

In America, however, bowls are just starting to be “cool.” 🥣

For most of American culinary history, food has been separated. Serving food in courses or having different plates for different foods (i.e. salad plate, bread plate) was a sign of refinement and status. For example, middle-class 20th-century American households had TWO sets of dishes: every day and “the good china” that filled an entire piece of auxiliary furniture. 

The “American meal” was also a separation of components. Namely, a slab of protein (meat) with some vegetable sides. (It is this view of a “meal” that makes going vegan difficult for a lot of people because a plant-based diet requires a new way of looking at food).

Eating out of a bowl was very unfashionable and mixing foods or flavors together was considered disgusting or unappealing. (I remember my uncle once mixing together his meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn, and gravy and everyone else at the table cringing and commenting on how gross that ways). 

So Why are bowls in vogue now? 

#1 Practicality: All Americans are busier than ever. One-dish wonders are the extent most working parents and young professionals can manage on any given Tuesday. 

#2 Health: Many Americans have become health-conscious and that shift in values has changed trends in food.

#3 Millennials: Instagram gave social currency to bowl meals through their dazzling presentations. (They’re so photogenic!) and most people are exploring different cuisines--international foods that are traditionally served in bowls (Poke, for example). 

For me, it’s hard to beat a satisfying blend of whole grains, veggies, and plant-based proteins. 

Plus they are easy. You don’t need a knife and you could use a fork or a spoon.

Point is: there’s hardly any cleanup and you can eat from a bowl sitting at a table, standing by the counter, noshing on the couch, or on the floor if you're doing a picnic, whatever.

TOMORROW, I’m going to dig deep into the real science behind bowls and how they have a positive impact on your health and satisfaction.

If you struggle with being satisfied or you tend to overeat like me,you definitely don’t want to miss the research I’m sharing with you tomorrow. 

For TODAY, I have one quick question for you--How do you feel about your foods touching? Answer the poll on Facebook.

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