"When practiced to its fullest, mindful eating turns a simple meal into a spiritual experience, giving us a deep appreciation of all that went into the meal's creation as well as a deep understanding of the relationship between the food on our table, our own health, and our planet's health."
- Thich Nhat Hanh
Every time that we sit down to eat, we have the opportunity to provide our bodies with vitality and nourishment. This opportunity is not only in what we eat, but also in how we eat it. In western cultures, many of us have become disconnected from the food that we eat. We don’t know where it comes from or the journey that it took to get into our hands.
The pressures of productivity often cause us to eat while working, on the phone, or driving. Not only is this bad for digestion (did you know that the more stressed you are when you eat, the slower/weaker your digestion can be?!), but it can impact our mental health, too (APA, 2018).
It’s a daily reminder to slow down and tune in, noticing what foods feel nourishing in our bodies and what foods don’t. Regardless of the dietary choices you make, each meal is an opportunity for presence and gratitude. Mindful eating is one of the few rituals that you actually have an unavoidable reminder to practice daily, and it’s already built into your routine - because we all need to eat.
Choose a meal today to practice mindful eating. Pick a few of the following techniques that feel authentic to you, and notice how this shifts your experience:
- Practice presence while cooking. Engage in conversation if you are cooking with others, put your phone away and limit distractions. Allow yourself to be creative and enjoy the process.
- Set a nice space for your meal. This could include a candle and some wildflowers from your neighborhood. (*Sit rather than stand*)
- Before sitting down, put your phone away or put it on airplane mode.
- Take 30 seconds of presence before eating your food. Our favorite way to do this is to take 3 big, deep breaths, with your feet firmly planted on the floor beneath you.
- Say a few words of gratitude and acknowledgement before consuming the food. Give thanks to the farmers, grocery store workers, and the people native to the land you live on. Consider their contributions to bringing this food to your plate.
- Chew slowly and mindfully, enjoying the full spectrum of flavors in your food.
How do you feel afterwards? Did you feel more present during your meal?